Fouts already finding rhythm as Alabama’s ace


Courtesy of UA Athletics

James Benedetto, Sports Writer

A few hours before every softball practice, freshman Montana Fouts can be found doing the same thing at the same time.

She is pitching, working on her mechanics on every single pitch she has in her arsenal. Like target practice, Fouts hits the center of the catcher’s mitt, creating that cherished pop when the ball hits the glove.

The routine for Fouts correlates to her two stellar performances at the Hillenbrand Invitational, as she was just named SEC Freshman of the Week.

“She’s done [the routine] since August,” coach Patrick Murphy said. “She’s the hardest-working pitcher we have ever had and she has only been here for six months, so it says a lot about her.”

Her meticulous work on her game allowed Fouts to shine in the win against No. 7 Arizona. She pitched a complete game, struck out eight Wildcat batters with no walks and gave up one unearned run on six hits.

These video game-like numbers trace back to high school, where Fouts sported a 30-0 record with a 0.04 ERA and 383 strikeouts in her senior season. She contributed at the plate as well, hitting .584 to go along with eight home runs and 57 RBIs. Those are impressive numbers for the Grayson, Kentucky, native; but to her, she’s just doing her job.

“I just keep the score down so [the offense] can get their thing going,” Fouts said. “We are winning, and that is the most important thing.”

Despite her humble approach, Fouts’ talent is evident. She was a three-time Kentucky Gatorade Player of the Year, four-time MaxPreps All-American, four-time All-USA Today All-American, holds the Kentucky ERA record of 0.16 and set the state single-season record for perfect games with nine, and no-hitters with 14.

Although her high school accolades are striking, college softball is a major step-up both mentally and physically, something that Murphy knows can be tough for the freshman.

“As a freshman, you are always going to get hit,” Murphy said. “It’s going to happen. How she deals with that is going to be the key.”

Murphy was also impressed with how well Fouts made the transition from high school to college.

“They come playing against three really good batters, and then they face a college lineup and everybody is really good,” Murphy said. “You cannot take a batter off because they can beat you. I was really proud of her for that because Arizona has a really good lineup.”

Fouts started her fourth game in an Alabama uniform in front of 2,000 fans against the No. 7 team in the country and said she was not really fazed. In fact, she relished the opportunity.

“It is what you dream of growing up,” Fouts said. “Arizona had a great crowd, and it was fun playing in front of them.”

Fouts and the rest of the Crimson Tide return home to host the Easton Bama Bash, where Alabama will play five games over the weekend.

“Hopefully people will get to see all of the new kids we have for the first time,” Murphy said. “We are looking forward to it.”