Fouts returns to form, softball dominates in Friday doubleheader


CW file

James Benedetto | @james_benedetto, Assistant Sports Editor

It seemed like No. 9 Alabama wanted to put the memory of the last two weekends behind them.

After back-to-back trips to Florida, which ended in a roller coaster of emotions for the team, the Crimson Tide found some consistency in its 13-2 victory over Wichita State and a 5-0 victory over Penn State on Friday.

After four appearances without her usual precision, sophomore Montana Fouts (1-2, 2.47 ERA) finally looked like the pitcher fans fell in love with last season. In her first victory of the year, the Grayson, Kentucky, native was in control from the start, throwing a complete-game shutout, allowing two hits and no walks and striking out 11 against Penn State.

“I just kind of went into the game thinking, ‘I’m prepared for this,'” Fouts said. “I trusted my defense and I was focusing on each batter at a time, not necessarily the whole game. I was just thinking one batter, one batter and my defense was just feeding me the whole time.”

Fouts twice committed an error on ground balls that popped out of her glove and allowed the runner to reach base safely, but both times she recovered to get out of the inning. In the fourth, she responded by striking out two of her next three batters to strand the runner at first. When it happened again in the sixth, Fouts went back to throwing and got some help from her defense, as two fielder’s choices ended the inning.

“[Fouts] had this moxie about her, this fight about her that I think maybe was missing the first two weeks,” graduate student outfielder Alexis Mack said. “I mean she was just mowing people down left and right. It was great to see.”

That moxie seemed to carry over to the hitting as well, with Mack leadingthe charge for Alabama, going 4 for 6 with three RBIs and three steals. Mack’s ability to get on base and get into the scoring position was key for the offense as sophomore shortstop Skylar Wallace was able to drive her home. Wallace finished with four RBIs in the doubleheader.

“[Mack] is so good with the bat,” coach Patrick Murphy said. “She has some of the best bat control we’ve ever had. I have 100% confidence that she’s going to put the ball in play.”

That ability to get on base as the leadoff hitter was evident in the game against Wichita State. In the seven-run first inning, Mack had two at-bats. In her first at-bat, Mack quickly got into in scoring position as she drew a walk and then stole second. After a Wallace walk, Mack was able to come home after an RBI single by senior utility player Bailey Hemphill. In her second at bat, Mack sent a 1-2 pitch right back up the middle, picking up two of her four total RBIs, and advanced to second in the process.

With her performance, Mack raised her batting average to a team-leading .414 after going hitless in back-to-back games.

“I’m just trying to get on base for the big hitters behind me,” Mack said. “I like to consider myself pretty scrappy, so anyway I can get on base.”

The barrage in the first inning was more than enough for freshman Lexi Kilfoyl (3-2, 2.60 ERA), who allowed just one run on two hits, walked two batters and five in the win.

“[Kilfoyl] is really cool, really good demeanor,” Murphy said. “I think that’s a really good quality, especially for a freshman pitcher, you know, throwing in her first game at home. And she’s just going to get better and better too.”

Alabama will be back in action on Saturday with another doubleheader against Louisville and Penn State. First pitch of the first game against Louisville is set for 1:30 p.m.