Softball baffles Bruins: Perfect game sends Alabama to WCWS Semifinals

Robert Cortez, Assistant Sports Editor

It was a historic Friday night at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium when No. 3 Alabama (52-7) defeated No. 3 UCLA (47-6) for the first time in program history. The Crimson Tide’s 6-0 win secured the team a spot in the Women’s College World Series Semifinals on Sunday, June 6. 

“I couldn’t be more excited that the seven seniors are getting to go to another semifinal,” senior Kaylee Tow said. “This time we’re coming through the winner’s bracket, so it’s a really good feeling.”

Fouts Pitches Perfect Game 

Junior Montana Fouts (27-3; 1.38 ERA) pitched a perfect game on her 21st birthday. It was the first perfect game thrown in the Women’s College World Series in 21 years. Fouts said she was mentally locked in. 

Fouts recalled last year’s birthday spent away from her teammates because of the COVID-19 pandemic. She said spending the day with her team and collecting a win was all she wanted. 

The Kentucky native struck out 14 UCLA batters — the same number on the back of her jersey. Four of Fouts’ strikeouts were against 2021 U.S. Olympians Bubba Nickles and Rachel Garcia. Fouts tallied multiple strikeouts in six of her seven innings pitched.

“It was special…so a hell of a birthday present to herself,” Head Coach Patrick Murphy said. “Just to watch greatness is pretty cool.” 

In the postgame conference, Tow said Fouts’ perfect game was earned early in the season.

“That perfect game started back in August when she was working so hard and she was the first one to the field and the last one to leave,” Tow said. “It couldn’t happen to a better person.”

Alabama Sees Early Offensive Success

The Crimson Tide’s bats made noise from the beginning of the game against Garcia (18-2; 1.33 ERA), UCLA’s two-time National Player of the Year. 

The Alabama offense posted a pair of runs in the opening frame with RBIs from graduate student Bailey Hemphill and freshman Jenna Johnson. Johnson has recorded an RBI in the first inning in back-to-back games. 

Alabama scored in the opening frame for the third consecutive game and the eighth time this postseason. The Crimson Tide scored its six runs off Garcia, which is the most she has given up since her freshman season in 2017. 

A trio of the Crimson Tide’s runs came from a three-run blast over the center field wall during Tow’s bat in the fifth frame. The senior’s home run came off a changeup — a pitch she struck out on during her previous at bat. 

“I looked kind of silly on it, and so I was thinking that they might try me with it again,” Tow said. “I didn’t think I was going to hit it over the center field wall.”

Six Alabama batters recorded a hit in the game. Graduate student Alexis Mack led the game with a pair. 

“I was pleased up and down the lineup,” Murphy said. “I thought we did a really good job against obviously one of the best players in the country.”

Alabama will play on Sunday, June 6. Game time and broadcast information is TBA.