Iowa softball freshman Jalen Adams follows her mom’s legacy to collegiate softball

Adams knew she was a softball player from a very early age and credits her mom for getting her involved in the sport.


Averi Coffee

Iowa pitcher Jalen Adams throws the ball during a softball game between Iowa and Maryland at Pearl Field on Sunday, April 14, 2023. Maryland defeated Iowa, 5-2, in the first game and 2-0 in the second.

Emma Sachs, Sports Reporter

Freshman Jalen Adams is following in her mother’s footsteps by playing college softball. Adams, a right-handed pitcher, is already making an impact as a Hawkeye.

As of May 1, Adams is leading Iowa with a 2.21 ERA and is second on the roster with 115 1/3 innings pitched.

Adams is an Iowa native who grew up playing softball along with other sports. However, she has always had a special connection to softball.

“I started with soccer and basketball — the common little league sports — but softball was always my sport,” Adams said. “I started doing travel softball when I was five. My mom is the head coach at Fort Dodge High School, and she was pretty adamant about making me a pitcher. As I got older I just kind of fell in love with it.”

Before becoming the head coach at Fort Dodge in 2000, Jalen Adams’ mother, Andrea Adams, had a hall-of-fame career at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, from 1994-98, with four all-conference honors and two All-American selections.

Jalen Adams said being coached by her mother deepened their connection.

“Having my mom as a coach growing up was a very unique experience that not a lot of kids get to go through,” Jalen Adams said. “I’m very grateful that I got to experience something like that. We got along really well for the most part. By the time I was a senior, I kind of knew the ropes, and she just helped me get that much better.”

Under the guidance of her mother, Jalen Adams’ hard work paid off.

She was a first-team all-state selection all four years at Fort Dodge from 2019-22 and was named the Iowa high school player of the year as a senior. She also made the all-state third team as an eighth grader in 2018.

As her high school career ended, Jalen Adams’ dream of playing college softball became a reality.

“Since I was about maybe 10 or 11, I knew I wanted to play collegiately,” Jalen Adams said. “It’s always been a goal of mine since I was a little girl. Watching the high school girls play, I always wondered what they did after high school, and I knew that I could do that someday.”

When deciding where to play in college, Jalen Adams wanted to be in an environment that resembled the one her mother had created for her growing up. After getting to know the Hawkeye community, Jalen Adams knew Iowa was where she belonged.

“Iowa is close to home,” Jalen Adams said. “I’m a homebody, and I love being close to my family. I knew that if I went here, they’d be able to come watch me play. That was always really important for me.”

Iowa head coach Renee Gillispie said Jalen Adams’ fight and desire to be in the spotlight make her a great addition to the Hawkeyes’ squad.

“Jalen is a competitor,” Gillispie said. “She’s always been that way since her freshman year in high school. We’ve been watching her for a long time. Seeing her and the way that she competes and wants the ball, you’ve seen that all year between UCLA and she won the ball at UCLA, she wants the big games. We know that she has that in her but I’ve seen that really early on in her career. She’s a selfless player, but she’s going to give you everything she can on the mound.”

Against the then-No.1 Bruins on Feb. 24, in just the fifth pitching appearance of her college career, Jalen Adams held UCLA — a team that had averaged nearly eight runs per game through its first 14 contests — to a then-season-low two runs on six hits.

Jalen Adams has pitched in 27 games this season, making 17 starts as of May 1, and compiling a record of 7-11.

In games where she has been the pitcher of record, the Hawkeye offense has averaged under three runs per game, and Adgams has allowed an average of 1.67 earned runs.

Despite her hard luck on the mound this season, Jalen Adams is excited for the remainder of her first season as a Hawkeye as Iowa gears up for the Big Ten tournament after its final four regular season games this week.

“Iowa has just been incredible,” Jalen Adams said. “The girls are amazing, and all the upperclassmen make it a super welcoming environment. I just can’t see wait to see what the postseason brings us.”