Alabama softball concludes 2023 season after loss to Stanford


Courtesy of UA Athletics

Alabama softball player Kali Heivilin (#22) makes a play at first base against Stanford on June 2 at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, OK

Dean Harrell, Contributing Writer

With its back against the wall once again, the Alabama softball team faced elimination in Oklahoma City as it competed against the Stanford Cardinal on Friday night in the Women’s College World Series. 

Struggling with the bats all night long, the Crimson Tide fell to the Cardinal 2-0, concluding the tournament run and the 2023 season. 

In a game where graduate student Ashley Prange was the only batter able to pick up a hit against a tough Stanford pitching duo, senior Alana Vawter and freshman NiJaree Canady, Alabama seemingly had no answers at the plate. 

Stanford struck first in the game, picking up a run in the second inning. Senior Sydney Steele lofted a double into right center to bring a runner home for a rare run in this low-scoring matchup.  

Needing a response, the Crimson Tide was not able to put anything together on the offensive side of the ball. Prange’s double came in the third inning, but the rest of the lineup was unable to bring her home.  

A long, four-inning, hitless struggle for Alabama continued throughout the rest of the matchup as the game drew closer to conclusion. 

While the bats were ice cold for Alabama, Stanford tacked on another insurance run in the top of the seventh inning. After a quick two outs, Steele once again came up with a huge hit for her team, this time a solo home run to put the Cardinal ahead 2-0 going into the bottom half of the seventh. 

As Canady took the circle for Stanford in the seventh, it was no easy task for Alabama in the bottom of the inning.  

After two back-to-back strikeouts from freshman Kenleigh Cahalan and graduate student Ally Shipman, the Cardinal was one out away from advancing. The final out came from a shallow fly ball by junior Bailey Dowling to conclude the elimination game. 

In her final game in an Alabama softball uniform, senior Montana Fouts pitched the full game, giving up five hits and striking out four batters. Fouts’ impact will go beyond her time spent as a Crimson Tide softball team member. 

“She has the most competitive spirit of any pitcher that wears the ‘A,’” said head coach Patrick Murphy. “She makes everyone feel special, she takes her time with everyone, she’s just an icon in the sport.” 

Fouts noted how much her teammates and coaches have impacted her. 

“These people are my everything. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to spend my dream,” Fouts said. “I don’t know if I’ll ever have the words for this place and what [Murphy], and the coaches, and these teammates mean to me. I have a home.” 

With a long offseason approaching, it will certainly be important to watch the impact of the departing star-studded senior class with many All-American nominations and playoff appearances to note. 

“They truly taught me to find a joy in a game that I never thought I could love again,” Prange said. “From day one, they welcomed me with open arms and loved me more than I ever believed I deserved.” 

Still retaining a young core of players, the Crimson Tide team has a bright light to look forward to going into the next season.