Softball shuts out five straight in Crimson Classic

Dean Harrell, Contributing Writer

The Alabama softball team (17-3) hosted the T-Mobile Crimson Classic this weekend as its long 13-game home stretch comes to a close. After an absolute pitching clinic put on by the Crimson Tide this weekend, Patrick Murphy and his team have now achieved six straight shutout wins and plan to continue. 

Though the bats have been as hot as ever for Alabama, the pitching over the weekend was a sight to see. With a first career no-hitter from Jaala Torrence, a perfect game from Montana Fouts, and multiple shutout victories, it is clear to see just how dominant the Alabama bullpen is.

Game One: No. 9 Alabama vs. Robert Morris 

To start off the weekend series at home, Alabama kicked things off against the Robert Morris University Colonials. Following its last outing against The University of Southern Mississippi, the Crimson Tide pieced together its second straight shutout game as it resulted in a 4-0 victory. 

It did not take long for Alabama to get the bats going, as sophomore Jordan Stephens ripped a single into center field which scored graduate Ally Shipman and junior Bailey Dowling for the first two runs of the ball game in the first inning. 

To add to the growing lead, sophomore Kali Heivilin drilled a ball to right field in which she recorded her first triple of the season and advanced to cross the plate after a throwing error in the second inning. Graduate student Ashley Prange scored the final run in the third inning as she crushed a home run into center field. 

With a stellar performance in the circle, senior Lauren Esman created havoc for the Colonials as she picked up a career-high nine strikeouts en route to her second shutout game of the season.  

“It was a great outing by Lauren [Esman] tonight,” head coach Patrick Murphy said, “Nine strikeouts and a shutout, it doesn’t matter who it is against these days in Division 1 softball with the way the offenses are taking over across the country.” 

Game Two: No. 9 Alabama vs. Robert Morris 

Originally scheduled to be played on Friday night, a weather delay pushed the second matchup against Robert Morris to Saturday morning. However, the schedule change was no trouble for the Crimson Tide as it rolled to a 10-0 victory. 

The bottom of the lineup got it going in the second inning for Alabama, as a walk from junior Emma Broadfoot and singles from freshman Larissa Preuitt and Esman loaded the bases with only one out. After back-to-back ground balls from freshmen Kristen White and Kenleigh Cahalan, the Crimson Tide struck first and scored the first two runs of the game.  

However, the fireworks were not over yet as Patrick Murphy’s squad put on a hitting clinic in the fourth inning alone as Crimson Tide picked up seven hits and scored an impressive eight runs. With home runs from Bailey Dowling and Cahalan, the scoring surge from Alabama put the game far out of reach. 

Following Esman’s shutout in the previous game, junior Jaala Torrence put on a show herself as she notched her first career no-hitter and picked up a shutout win as well. Torrence tallied the 42nd no-hitter in Alabama softball history. 

“It means a lot. I’ve been here for a while; it’s my junior year which is crazy,” Torrence said. “Just to be able to do what I did here at home in front of our fans means so much.” 

Game Three: No. 7 Alabama vs. Longwood 

To cap off the Saturday doubleheader, the Crimson Tide faced off against the Longwood University Lancers. An early scoring surge allowed for Alabama to get an early lead and maintain it throughout the entire game with the final score of 5-0. 

In the second inning, three consecutive walks loaded the bases for Preuitt as she hit a ground ball that skipped past the second baseman for an error and scored Heivilin and senior Jenna Johnson for the first runs of the game. Following her was Cahalan with a single down the right field line that scored Preuitt and freshman Marlie Giles. 

Keeping the trend going of exceptional pitching for Alabama was Montana Fouts. Fouts tallied 12 strikeouts, her third highest strikeout total of the season, and picked up her first shutout win of the season.  

“Lance and the pitchers had a really good week. We got to practice Tuesday and Thursday which wasn’t a lot because it rained all day Thursday, so we were inside the whole time.” Murphy said. “The things (Lance McMahon, pitching coach) showed them on video helped a lot … whatever they did. it worked.” 

Game Four: No. 7 Alabama vs. Longwood 

To start off the Sunday doubleheader, the Crimson Tide had its final matchup against Longwood. After another spectacular pitching performance, this time a perfect game from Fouts, Alabama had no trouble with the Lancers and won 8-0. 

After Dowling started off the first inning with an RBI single, the Crimson Tide did not scratch across another run until the fourth inning. However, a combined five-run scoring output in the fifth and sixth innings put the game out of reach for Longwood.  

However, the headline of the game was certainly the second career solo perfect game from Fouts. Being an achievement that only few pitchers can say they have accomplished, Fouts has reached this milestone twice in her career at Alabama.  

Fouts was feeling it all day long with her pitches as she struck out 14 of 18 batters that she faced throughout the game. Just the day before, she achieved 12 strikeouts which was her second highest total and has already surpassed that.  

“There’s going to be opportunities for us to play a game Friday and the next day we play the same team, not just in SEC’s, but regionals, super regionals, and world series,” Fouts said. “I went in there with a postseason mindset. My defense had my back, they scored the runs. Just a good game.” 

Game Five: No. 7 Alabama vs. Mercer 

For the final matchup of the Crimson Classic weekend series, the Crimson Tide matched up against Mercer. Continuing to dominate the competition over the series, Alabama took the final game 8-0 in five innings. 

It was a slow start for both sides as neither team picked up a run through the first two innings. However, a scoring onslaught starting with Cahalan’s RBI double to left field was the beginning of a three-run third inning, followed by a four-run fourth inning. 

With two home runs coming from Ashley Prange and Johnson, the scoring surge in the final three innings put the game far out of reach for Mercy and concluded the mercy rule victory. 

Sophomore Alex Salter got the start in the circle for the Crimson Tide. She only allowed two hits and struck out two batters as well, en route to her first shutout win of the season. 

Alabama will be back in action against Western Michigan University on Tuesday, March 7, at 6 p.m. at home for the end of the 13-game home stretch.  

Questions or comments? Email Blake Byler (Sports Editor) at [email protected]