Directional schools such as South Alabama create certain images in athletes’ minds.
Making his first foray into Mobile, Ala., over the weekend, Geneva senior right-hander Jordan Touro emerged with a better impression and a college scholarship to boot.
Touro accepted the Jaguars’ offer Sunday as he headed home from a campus visit with his father. The final stages of the 14-hour drive naturally seemed to pass much faster.
“I wasn’t expecting it to be that nice of a school, the campus and everything, but everything was beautiful and new,” Touro said Monday. “Once I met the baseball team and the coach went over their philosophy, that’s where I felt like I wanted to be.”
Coastal Carolina also was a primary suitor for Touro, who went 5-2 as a junior. After resting his arm for about a month between summer ball and his fall tournament schedule for the Sparks travel team, he headed to Mobile intent on finalizing his college plans.
The allure of South Alabama’s facilities and coaching staff appealed to Touro immediately. New Jaguars coach Mark Calvi’s intensity and approach were especially comforting. Calvi comes to the program after a six-season stint as pitching coach at South Carolina, which included the Gamecocks’ 2010 run to the College World Series title in Omaha, Neb.
South Carolina ranked in the top 10 nationally in ERA, strikeouts and hits allowed per nine innings that season. The Gamecocks’ 2.15 ERA in seven CWS games was nearly one run lower than the next-closest staff.
“He’s bringing that to South Alabama, and they just want kids who want to win,” Touro said. “They had an off year last year and the year before, but they’re rebuilding and looking to be on the right track to win some regionals and maybe get to Omaha.”
South Alabama alumni in the major leagues include St. Louis Cardinals third baseman David Freese, Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Adam Lind, Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Juan Pierre and Minnesota Twins right-hander P.J. Walters. Walters is set to start Wednesday’s game against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.
Touro figures to get his share of exposure from professional scouts at a late-October tournament in Jupiter, Fla. The event signals the end of the fall season, when Touro will again shut down his arm while continuing a regular workout regimen.
Hours before committing to South Alabama, Touro learned friend and Sparks teammate Derek Bangert had accepted a scholarship offer from the Jaguars. A Lockport catcher, Bangert caught about half of Touro’s games during the summer season.
“He got offered, I got offered,” Touro said. “We were like, ‘Yeah, let’s take it. It would be awesome.’”
Like his campus visit, Touro called the trip at large “better than I thought.” Once he arrived home, there was more than just a holiday weekend to celebrate.
• Kevin Druley is a sports writer for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or firstname.lastname@example.org.