Softball | The Crimson Tide easily sweeps Easton Bama Bash

It didn’t matter who the Crimson played this weekend. The team played like the best softball team in the country. 

Etched into Rhoads Stadium’s right-field foul pole is a saying that’s become a motto for Alabama softball: “2 outs… so what.” The saying rang true for the Crimson Tide’s back-to-back matchups this weekend against Liberty University and the Louisiana State University Tigers. 

First inning offense leads to Liberty sweep

Game 1

No. 6 Alabama softball (5-0) used a first inning two-out offensive surge and a strong relief appearance from sophomore Lexi Kilfoyl to capture a Friday afternoon win over the Liberty Flames (6-1), 6-3.

An early 0-0 game came to an end as freshman Bailey Dowling roped a two-out RBI single to score senior K.B. Sides. Senior Kaylee Tow and sophomore Jenna Johnson followed that up with each of their own RBI hits to give the Crimson Tide an early 3-0 advantage. Alabama went into the second frame with a 4-0 advantage due to a Liberty error, which proved to be all Alabama would need.

“It started to look like we weren’t going to get anything in the first inning, and then boom — we put four hits up,” head coach Patrick Murphy said.

Graduate student Alexis Mack managed a two-out RBI single of her own in the bottom of the fourth inning to score graduate student Elissa Brown and Johnson. Brown and Johnson’s scores put Alabama up 6–3, which proved to be the final.

The team’s chase to break the 2011 record of 29.2 scoreless innings came to an end in the top of the third as Liberty’s Savannah Channell sent a home run over the left field fence off of graduate student Sarah Cornell. Alabama’s scoreless streak finished at 26.1 innings, which is the second-longest streak in program history.

Kilfoyl moved to 3-0 on the season after she came in to relieve Cornell in the top of the fourth with the bases loaded. She didn’t allow a single hit and collected four strikeouts in the innings she played.

“Kilfoyl has continued to improve every year,” Murphy said. “Her ball has a lot of movement on it, which makes it really hard to hit.”

Game 2

Alabama topped its first-inning 4-0 offensive performance from Friday night on Saturday, Feb. 20, with a 6-0 frame highlighted by a 3-run home run off the bat of graduate student Claire Jenkins on her senior day. The Crimson Tide defeated the Flames 8-1 to improve to 6-0 on the season.

“It was probably one of my favorite ones,” Jenkins said. “I felt the love and energy from everyone around me.”

Senior Kaylee Tow played a part in Alabama’s first-inning performance as she drove in the first two runs of the game with a single through the right side. Tow added her third RBI of the day, and sixth of the season with a solo home run in the fifth inning to extend the Crimson Tide’s lead to 7-1. Tow carried a .833 batting average in its double header against Liberty.

“She had another really good game today,” Murphy said. “She’s been swinging early in the count, and it has been a really good thing.”

Senior Maddie Morgan started her first game of the season and gave the coaching staff a reason to keep her in the starting lineup. Morgan was 2-for-3 on the day and nearly had a home run in the bottom of the sixth, which would have given Alabama the run-rule win if she wasn’t robbed by Liberty’s Madison Via out in right field.

“When she gets her opportunity, she will take advantage of it,” Murphy said.

Junior Montana Fouts (3-0) made her third start of the season and dominated, just as she did in her previous two starts. Fouts gave up four hits and no earned runs through six innings of work and tallied 13 strikeouts on the day. This game marked Fouts’ second-straight game with double-digit strikeouts.

Toppling the Tigers

Game 1

Alabama saw its first of eight ranked opponents this weekend: No. 9 LSU. Fans were definitely able to leave Rhoads Stadium with smiles on their faces after the team’s first big win over the Tigers, 5–2.
In Saturday’s contest against the Tigers, the Crimson Tide left 11 runners on base and Murphy stated two-out RBIs are some of the hardest things to come by in both baseball and softball, but all 13 of Alabama’s runs on Sunday came with two outs. The Alabama offense put together its fourth straight double-digit hit performance, 12, and went 8-for-13 with runners in scoring position, a .615 average.

“I think they were a little bit looser and really zoned in at the plate,” Murphy said. “[I] couldn’t be more proud of that.”

The team has consistently scored first, and Saturday night’s LSU game was no exception. A two-out double from freshman Bailey Downing got the night off to a great start. This put Alabama up 1-0. Dowling kept up that energy both offensively and defensively, going for the lead outs instead of the sure ones. In the final frame, with LSU threatening to score, her fielding was at peak performance. Head coach Patrick Murphy said he has witnessed “games lost on that exact play.”

“Most kids would have gone to first just to get the sure outs,” Murphy said. “She’s just very athletic and has great body awareness.”

This was Alabama’s third straight game with double-digit hits, 12, but of the five runs scored only two were earned, as LSU committed a season-high four errors. The second earned run was driven in by senior Maddie Morgan to score freshman Kat Grill in another two-out RBI situation. The Crimson Tide were 5-for-17 with runners in scoring position and 0-for-3 with the bases loaded.

“It’s the hardest thing [hit with runners in scoring position] to do,” Murphy said. “Maddie Morgan got one in the bottom of the sixth.”

Sophomore Lexi Kilfoyl (4-0) got the start and pitched a solid complete game, allowing one walk and one earned run on six hits. But the seventh inning may have raised the heart rate of Alabama fans. Last season, Kilfoyl gave up go-ahead runs three times in the seventh inning, and LSU threatened to tie the game up by capitalizing on that weakness. However, Kilfoyl did not let last year’s mistakes come to fruition, and she rolled two ground balls to the defense, one of the being Dowling’s, and the plays were made.

“It was a big moment for her,” graduate student Claire Jenkins said. “For her to just be able to find a way to shut them down should give her a lot of confidence for games to be played.”

Kilfoyl did what LSU’s previous opponents could not do, keep the Tigers in the ballpark. LSU is second in the Southeastern Conference in home runs, 12, and boasts the conference home run leader in Amanda Doyle. Kilfoyl got the better of Doyle as she went 0-for-3 at the plate.

“I don’t think Kilfoyl pitched her best game, but she gave us enough to beat a very good team,” Murphy said.

Game 2

The Sunday contest between Alabama and LSU looked to be a pitchers’ contest. Instead, Alabama scooped up a mercy rule win, 13-5, to cap off the Easton Bama Bash.

“I think they were a little bit looser and really zoned in at the plate,” Murphy said. “[I] couldn’t be more proud of that.”

In the win, Alabama faced its first deficit of the season as LSU scored a run in the top of the first, but was quickly erased a three-run bottom of the first highlighted by a two-run home run from freshman Bailey Dowling.

LSU had tied the game in both the top half of the second and fourth innings and looked to have a solid chance to do it once more in the fifth as its top of the lineup stepped to the plate. But Dowling charged and cleanly snagged a short hop ground ball to cut down LSU’s Aliyah Andrews, who is considered one of the fastest players in the nation, for the first out of the inning.

“I’m serious, there’s not very many kids that could make that [first] play,” Murphy said. “That was a huge rally killer for sure.”

Tow added to her stellar weekend at the plate with three hits, two of which came with the bases loaded. Like Dowling, Tow finished the game with five RBIs and now carries the team lead with 12.

Part of the offensive success was due to the ability to turn the lineup over back to the top because of the success of Elissa Brown in the nine spot. Brown went 1-for-2 at the plate with a walk and motored across home plate three times. In games where Brown scores a run, the team record is 91–10.

“My ultimate goal is to get on base and it doesn’t matter how,” Brown said. “[I’m] trusting my ability, and I think that’s really helping.”

Entering this game, Fouts carried a 1.92 ERA against opponents ranked in the top 10, but in her fourth start of the season she allowed four and gave up her first home runs and earned runs of the season. Nonetheless, Fouts picked up the win and remains undefeated on the season. Murphy said that Fouts would likely give herself a “C performance” on the day. Fouts appeared to settle in over the course of the game, as only two batters reached base after the second inning.

Alabama softball resumes action on Wednesday against UAB at 6 p.m. in Rhoads Stadium.