Courtesy of UA Athletics
The Alabama Crimson Tide’s SEC title defense ended abruptly Thursday afternoon after a quarterfinal round 3-0 shutout loss to the No. 7 seed Missouri Tigers in Gainesville, Florida. It marks the first time the Crimson Tide has lost its opening matchup in the tournament since 1999.
The opponents were very familiar with each other, with Thursday being the fourth matchup between the two teams in the last six days. The Crimson Tide entered the tournament well rested. Alabama secured a double-bye as the No. 2 seed in the tournament after a controversial 3-1 rubber match victory over the Tigers last weekend.
The game’s deciding score came on a three-run home run by Ashley Prange that was reviewed after it appeared Missouri’s left fielder kept the ball in play at the wall. But the ruling was upheld, and Alabama emerged victorious.
Missouri head coach Larissa Anderson was vocal about seeking revenge after Sunday’s loss.
“I want them [the players] to have an opportunity to win every single ball game,” Anderson said. “I want it to be decided on the field. I don’t want it to be decided because of a missed call or a missed opportunity. So losing the way that we did, and who knows if we would’ve won or lost, it wasn’t coming down to the accurate call on the field. And that’s all I want for them.”
Thursday was Missouri’s fourth time seeing Senior pitcher Montana Fouts in six days, but for much of the game she still dominated.
Fouts pitched the entire game, finishing the game throwing 119 total pitches on five hits allowed with one earned run and five strikeouts.
The game was a pitcher’s duel through five innings. With both teams due for a big hit to break things open, it was delivered by Missouri shortstop Jenna Laird – a double to right center.
Laird scored the game’s opening run on a sacrifice fly. After a hot groundout ball snuck under Fouts’ glove, another score came in on a ruled error.
The Crimson Tide looked to get out of the jam, but another error brought home the Tigers’ third score.
A three-score lead was insurmountable for Alabama, as it struggled to generate offense all evening – stranding all five of their baserunners. Missouri pitcher Laurin Krings had it going from start to finish, allowing zero runs on 35 less pitches than Fouts.
“Obviously her [Krings] ball was moving, and it was an old-fashioned pitcher’s duel for five innings,” Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said. “Then they got the double, and then I think two mistakes in that inning by us. You can’t give a good hitting team like Missouri extra outs, because they’re going to take advantage of it obviously. We just didn’t hit enough.”
Alabama’s final batter, sophomore Kat Grill, singled with two outs and was called safe initially, but after further review the ruling was overturned securing the final out in the Tigers’ victory.
The Crimson Tide now await Selection Sunday to see where its postseason will continue. The NCAA Selection show will air Sunday, May 15 at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN2.