Softball survives “Survival Saturday” with 2-0 win over Arizona


Photo by Robert Sutton

James Benedetto, Assistant Sports Editor

OKLAHOMA CITY — Survive and advance.

The statement closely tied with far-fetched sports moments once again rang true as Alabama defeated Arizona by a score of 2-0 to stay alive in the Women’s College World Series for one more day.

“I think the whole season, everyone has kind of doubted us a little bit,” junior Bailey Hemphill said. “So we have kind of had a chip on our shoulder the whole season. [We] just keep proving people wrong and having fun with it.”

Alabama began its “Survival Saturday” last night as the Crimson Tide faced Florida in its first elimination game. After a monumental 15-3 defeat of Florida, “Team 23” had a quick turn around of three hours to prepare for Arizona in another elimination game.

“We went back to the hotel, got a meal and then quickly left in the top of the third to come back over here,” coach Patrick Murphy said. “We had a really quick stretch and warmup, we didn’t hit, just threw before the game and was literally like, ‘Let’s play.’ I think everybody just had adrenaline from the first game.”

Unlike the prior game, Alabama relied heavily on pitching and defense to stymie the Arizona batters. Freshman Montana Fouts (20-6, 1.39 ERA) pitched a complete game shutout, allowing three hits and struck out nine in the win.

“You know, that’s one of the best games she’s pitched all year,” Murphy said. “To hold them to, I think, just three hits and I think she had nine strikeouts. ‘Murder’s Row’ is Harper, Martinez and [Mulipola] and she struck them out in order the first time that she saw them. That’s just a really, really good hitting team and for her to do that, she was really throwing the ball well tonight.”

The defense would be solid behind Fouts, when they needed to be. In the bottom of the seventh, sophomore KB Sides caught a fly ball against the right field wall, preventing a lead off double. Earlier, in the bottom of the fourth inning with the bases loaded, the defense stepped up yet again. Hemphill, who doubled in the top of the third to give Alabama the lead, snagged a line drive that would have scored a run if not more, to end the inning.

“I don’t know why I had a gut feeling that she was going to hit it in the 3-4 hole and I kind of cheated a little bit that way,” Hemphill said. “[Fouts] placed it right, I guess, and I was able to catch it.”

Alabama advances to a rematch with the Oklahoma Sooners. First pitch is scheduled for Sunday, June 2 at 2:30 p.m.

“Just taking it one game at a time,” Fouts said when asked about the rematch with Oklahoma. “Today I think our hitters were starting to see a little bit better and I think that is going to carry into tomorrow.”