CW / Davida Franklin
No. 3 Alabama softball (15-0) welcomed Mississippi State’s (8-5) head coach Samatha Ricketts to SEC competition with a 4-0 loss at Rhoads Stadium Wednesday night in a midweek conference matchup.
“I thought it was a pretty well-played game, and obviously the star of the show was Montana,” head coach Patrick Murphy said.
Junior Montana Fouts (7-0; 1.02 ERA) solidified the team’s fourth consecutive shutout win, which was its eighth overall, and set a new career-high for strikeouts in a game with 16. Fouts’ previous career-high game in strikeouts came earlier this season against Liberty with 13. Fouts struck out the side in both the first and fifth innings and pitched a pair of strikeouts in the other five innings. For the third time this season, Fouts did not issue a walk.
“I’m just working on trusting myself, trusting my defense and just doing everything I can on my part,” Fouts said.
Seven of Fouts’ strikeouts came against the Bulldog’s 2-3-4 hitters, which included Mia Davison and Fa Leilua who each had team-leading five home runs the game.
“For her to do what she did with velocity, location and movement… It’s a pretty darn good outing,” Murphy said.
Fouts said she owed her success to pitching coach Stephanie VanBrakle Prothro, who prepared Fouts and the rest of the pitching staff during the week. The Kentucky native also gave credit to graduate student catcher Bailey Hemphill for “making me look better.”
Freshman Kat Grill got the start in right field to fill in for the absence of senior K.B. Sides and sophomore Jenna Johson in the outfield due to injury. Grill got Alabama’s three-run third inning started with a leadoff bunt single, advanced to second off a throwing error and made it to third base off of a bunt single from graduate student Elissa Brown. Grill scored off a ball put into play from graduate student Alexis Mack, who got a two-out RBI in the fourth inning to put the game at its final score. Grill finished the night 1-2 with a sacrifice bunt at the plate.
Murphy complimented Grill’s performance after the game.
“She has been consistent, worked hard, [she’s] not a rollercoaster ride of emotions, and she’s just very even keeled,” Murphy said. “She reminds me a lot of Chandler Dare. A hard worker, baller, and her teammates love her.”
The Alabama offense was fundamentally sound in the win. Along with Grill’s sacrifice bunt, a pair of fly balls were hit to advance runners, which included a sacrifice fly from freshman Bailey Dowling to score Mack and put Alabama up 3-0. Dowling is now tied with senior Kaylee Tow for the team lead in RBIs, 16.
“They had two errors in the inning, and we took advantage of that as we had some good base running and some good execution,” Murphy said.
Alabama is set to host the Easton T-Town Showdown starting Friday, March 5. The Crimson Tide will have a double header against Kent State, which is set to start at 4 p.m. CT, and will be streamed on SEC Network Plus.