Fouts strikes out 10; Alabama defeats Missouri in round one of SEC Tournament


Alabama softball player Montana Fouts gets ready to pitch before Alabama’s first SEC tournament game against Missouri Wednesday night. Courtesy of UA Athletics.

Dean Harrell, Contributing Writer

The Alabama softball team has officially begun competition in the Southeastern Conference tournament. For its first game, the Crimson Tide cruised to a 7-2 victory over the Missouri Tigers to advance to the quarterfinal round.  

With the start time originally set for 4 p.m., a very lengthy weather delay pushed the first pitch time all the way to 9 p.m.  

Despite the five-hour delay, the Crimson Tide had no problems getting things together early in the game. After two quick outs in the first inning, graduate Ashley Prange kept the inning alive by drilling a deep home run out and over the center field wall to strike first on the scoreboard. 

“Our offense as a whole, we try to take pride in scoring first because it gives us a little cushion,” Prange said. “It allows [Montana Fouts] to pitch more free and we want to support her as best we can because she’s had our back all year.” 

Head coach Patrick Murphy’s team has developed a strong tendency to score early in games, and this matchup against the Tigers only continued the trend. Already having the solo home run in the first inning, the Crimson Tide put up three big runs in the second inning. 

Sophomore Kali Heivilin got the scoring surge started as she ripped a single to left field that brought home freshman Kenleigh Cahalan. Immediately following Heivilin, freshman Kristen White dribbled a soft grounder that was bobbled by the pitcher, allowing another run. Lastly, senior Jenna Johnson contributed to the big inning by lifting a long fly ball to right field that would be caught for a sacrifice fly, with Heivilin tagging and advancing to cross the plate and extend the lead to 4-0. 

Seeking an answer to Alabama’s hot start, the Tigers were able to finally retaliate in the third inning. An RBI single up the middle by junior Alex Honnold brought home Missouri’s first run of the game. 

A sloppy defensive showing by the Tigers resulted in Alabama scoring another run without even picking up a hit in the fourth inning. Junior Bailey Dowling reached second base after an outfield fielding error and proceeded to score off of a wild pitch. Missouri was able to respond once again with an RBI single in the fifth inning, but it would be its last run of the game. 

Just as the Tigers were able to respond with scoring, Alabama accomplished the same thing. In the bottom half of the fifth inning, freshman Larissa Preuitt began the inning with an infield single. Once again, as one of the biggest slugging threats on the team, Prange blasted another home run, this time a two-run shot to put the Crimson Tide ahead 7-2. 

“If the other team scores, you bounce back and either tie it or go ahead,”  Murphy said. I think it’s just a thing in the history of our program that we’ve prided ourselves on since day one.” 

Senior Montana Fouts led the charge in the circle and controlled the Tigers all game long. Fouts recorded 10 strikeouts and gave up only two runs en route to her complete game victory. Already leading Division I softball in strikeouts this season, Alabama’s ace continues to impress every time she takes the field. 

With the game concluding around 11:20 p.m. CT, approximately four hours later than it was scheduled to, it certainly did not deter the spirits of the veterans of the Crimson Tide lineup.  

“To bring the best version of ourselves, we just have to have fun, and we reminded the team of that,” Fouts said. “You have to take it one game at a time, whether it’s eight hours late, or it’s early, whatever you have to do, we are going to enjoy it while we’re here.” 

Now moving on to the quarterfinals, Alabama will take on the tournament hosts, the Arkansas Razorbacks, on Thursday night following the conclusion of the Georgia Bulldogs vs. the South Carolina Gamecocks.