Crimson Tide hurler has deep Atmore connection
By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
When the University of Alabama softball team takes on SEC foe Tennessee in the first round of the Women’s College World Series this Thursday (June 1), the Crimson Tide will rely heavily on a pitcher with a strong Atmore connection.
Jaala Torrence, who has posted a 9-2 record over 27 appearances (including 10 starts) despite some control troubles early in the season, stepped up when team ace Montana Fouts was injured. Jaala is a native of Dothan, but there are branches of her family tree that reach deeply into Atmore.
A 5-7 junior who has come into her own this season, Jaala is the daughter of Jeff Torrence of Atmore, the granddaughter of Pensacola resident and Escambia County High School graduate Marian Torrence, and the great-granddaughter of Mavis Torrence and the late local coaching legend Cornell Torrence, for whom the ECHS gym is named.
The young Alabama pitcher is the second member of her family to earn an athletic scholarship to UA.
She is following in her father’s footsteps. Jeff Torrence, who graduated from ECHS in 1992, earned a football scholarship to the Tuscaloosa athletic powerhouse and was a linebacker on the team from 1992-95, including the 1992 national championship season.
Her mother, Dr. Latoya Torrence, is a highly regarded OB-GYN in Dothan.
After struggling briefly earlier this season, Jaala has roared back to become one of the Tide’s most effective hurlers. Her performance in the NCAA regionals was near phenomenal, and Jaala was cited as the reason ’Bama still has a shot at the national title.
The Sporting News website includes a story written in the immediate wake of UA’s regional win over Northwestern, which propelled the Crimson Tide into the world series.
“Alabama softball’s berth in the super regional round of the NCAA Division I softball tournament is due in large part to a dominant pitching performance in the regionals,” the story begins. “But it wasn’t Crimson Tide ace Montana Fouts who led Alabama past the opening round. Instead, it was junior Jaala Torrence, who started the 2023 season as the Tide’s No. 3 pitcher before transitioning to a reserve role. And Torrence stepped up when Alabama needed her most.”
She pitched three complete games in the regional round, winning all three and hurling 18-2/3 shutout innings. Her take-charge performance included a five-hit shutout against Northwestern in a win-or-go-home contest last Sunday, May 28.
“She’s continued to improve,” coach Patrick Murphy said of Torrence after the season-extending win. “She continues to put in work. She wasn’t Debbie the Downer when she didn’t get her shots; she just continued to work, and obviously, that really paid off. But to be able to do it without (Fouts), it says a lot about her and the team.”
As a starter and reliever, Jaala has posted a 1.98 ERA while striking out 72 batters and walking only 31 in 92 innings this season. She threw her first collegiate no-hitter on March 4 and pitched seven complete games, including six shutouts, this season while also coming out of the bullpen to save two games.
According to the University of Alabama athletic website, Jaala is slated to pitch Game 3 of the NCAA Division I softball tournament’s super regional round.
The fifth-seeded Crimson Tide will take on No. 4 seed and SEC foe Tennessee in a game that will be televised by ESPN. The first pitch is set for 12 p.m. (high noon) this Thursday, June 1, from USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla.
The winner of that game will take on the winner of Thursday’s Oklahoma-Stanford showdown at 3 p.m. this Saturday, June 3, in a game that will be televised on ABC. The team that loses the opener will play the loser of the Oklahoma-Stanford game this Friday, June 2, at 7 p.m. in an elimination contest that will be broadcast on ESPN.