Montana Fouts is prepared to build on last season’s success

Blake Byler, Staff Reporter

Alabama softball’s senior pitcher Montana Fouts may have had the most successful 2021 calendar year of any Crimson Tide student-athlete. 

Statistically, Fouts’ junior season was magnificent. The 6-foot-1-inch pitcher had double-digit strikeout performances in 22 of her 32 starts and led the nation with 349 strikeouts. 

Fouts’ daunting stats led her to be named the NFCA National Pitcher of the Year, an NFCA First-Team All-American, the SEC Co-Pitcher of the Year and an All-SEC First Team member.

She was also named an SEC Tournament MVP and landed a spot on the Women’s College World Series All-Tournament team. 

These achievements were on display when Alabama faced No. 2 UCLA on June 4 in the 1-0 winner’s bracket game at the Women’s College World Series. Fouts pitched a perfect game against the Bruins — the first perfect game thrown in more than two decades at the Women’s College World Series — en route to a 6-0 win. 

This performance propelled Fouts into the national spotlight more than ever before and left the Kentucky native even more in love with the game. 

“I would say things have definitely changed for the better just because I feel like at that point in the season, even right before the season, I fell in love with the game all over again,” Fouts said. “So above all things I just realized how much I love it and how much I love being with my teammates, and realizing that’s the most important thing out of everything. It’s just the love we have for each other and playing the game and being on the field. “

Even following the conclusion of the 2021 season, the recognition did not cease. Fouts was later invited to the 2022 USA Softball Women’s National Team Selection Trials and was named to the roster on Jan. 7. 

“I’m super grateful to be part of the national team. It’s been a goal of mine ever since I started playing,” Fouts said. “I would say confidence-wise I was really blessed to be able to pitch live to them a couple of weeks ago …  But I’m just super grateful to represent the country and also a great university like this on that kind of level too.”

Heading into the 2022 season with confidence, experience and accolades behind her, Fouts still has hurdles to overcome in order for preseason No. 2 Alabama to repeat as SEC champions and help the program make its 14th appearance at the Women’s College World Series. 

A big part of Fouts’ success in the upcoming season will be her work with senior catcher Ally Shipman, a transfer from Tennessee, who looks to be the starting catcher in 2022. The relationship between Fouts and Shipman is off to a strong start. 

“I’ll say, Ally makes it really great and really easy to get along with. She came in, and immediately it was like I’ve known her for years,” Fouts said. “She’s just great at making friendships.”

Fouts and Shipman will get the chance to show off that newfound connection in the Candrea Classic, which begins on Feb. 11 in Tucson, Arizona. This was where Fouts first rose to prominence when she did not give up any earned runs against Arizona at the beginning of her freshman season back in 2019. 

“I’m just really thankful because I remember loving playing out there. They have great fans. We travel well. We have the best fans in the country and they always go out to support us,” Fouts said. “I remember we won the game against Arizona and [Coach Murphy] took us to go to Cheesecake Factory. So we’re hoping to keep that tradition.” 

Questions? Email the Sports desk at [email protected].