For a college-bound athlete, the recruiting process can be like a jigsaw puzzle. When all of the pieces fit properly, good things can happen.
The pieces fit perfectly for Pittsfield's Julia Murphy, who will be playing her collegiate softball at Division I Providence College.
"Around my sophomore year, we started looking at schools. Not so much for softball, but I had a good idea of what I wanted," she said. "This was one of the ones that I loved right away. They had been on my radar for a while."
Murphy, who played at St. Joseph and Pittsfield before moving on to attend Suffield (Conn.) Academy, officially signed her letter of intent to play softball for Kerri Jacklets at Providence.
So, even without softball, the Rhode Island school was on Murphy's short list.
"When they were able to come watch me play and reach out to me and wanted me to go there," she said in a phone interview. "It was kind of like a perfect fit.
"I love it. It's close to home, but not too close."
The Friars play in the Big East Conference. Murphy's future team is currently 8-10 in conference play, and are in suburban Philadelphia this weekend for a three-game series with Villanova. If Providence sweeps this series and fourth-place Butler loses twice to Georgetown, the Friars will qualify for the four-team conference tournament.
"On my visit, I probably met almost every player on the team, and every one of them was so welcoming. They made me feel like I was already there," Murphy said. "I love the coaches. The head coach played at Providence. She's been there a while [10 years], and two of the three assistant coaches are also Providence grads.
"It kind of made me realize that, oh, if they came back, there must be something really special about this place."
Suffield, meanwhile, is currently 7-2 and the Tigers have won four straight. On Tuesday, Murphy threw a two-hit shutout and struck out 15 in a 7-0 win over Northfield Mount Hermon.
Last year, she registered a 1.66 earned-run average and had an impressive 11-to-1, strikeout-to-walk ratio.
"In the spring of 2015, Julia told me she was coming to Suffield Academy. I was hoping that my No. 1 pitching spot was locked up and the school had another tremendous member," Suffield head coach Patrick Booth said at the ceremony. "I was 100 percent correct. Since arriving at campus, Julia has immediately assumed a leadership role for the team, first as a teammate with strong instincts and a stronger work ethic, and now a person elected tri-captain."
Murphy will not be the only former Pittsfield athlete on the Providence College campus. Alessandra Arace is finishing up her freshman season at PC, where she played for the 11-7-1 women's soccer team.
"After I committed, we had lunch together," Murphy said. "She's the kind of person that I can ask any questions to. She's been a great resource to have, for sure.
"I'll probably see her a lot next year, since it's not that big of a school."
Reach sports writer Howard Herman at 413-496-6253 or @howardherman.