Alabama softball sweeps doubleheader, improves to 3-0 in Crimson Classic

Blake Byler, Staff Reporter

Senior Montana Fouts was utilized to her full extent this weekend.

No. 2 Alabama (19-0) improved to 3-0 in the T-Mobile Crimson Classic on Saturday, defeating both Texas (11-9) and Miami (Ohio) (4-8). Alabama defeated Texas by a score of 3-1, and Miami (Ohio) 4-2.

“The crowd was awesome,” Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said. “When we needed a boost, they gave it to us. Kudos to everybody.”

In both games, Fouts (9-0; .73 ERA) was brought in to relief pitch, and the senior totaled 249 pitches over 24 hours, including the game Friday night against Texas.

“I thought her velocity was really good,” Murphy said. “She pitched through adversity.”

Game 1: Texas

Texas gave Alabama one of its most challenging games of the season on Friday night, falling 5-4. The talented Longhorns didn’t make the rematch any easier on the Crimson Tide.

Sophomore Jaala Torrence (4-0) got the start in the circle in game one for Alabama and put the Longhorns in a favorable position in the second inning. Texas earned no hits, but Torrence walked four batters, leading to a 1-0 lead for the Longhorns.

Alabama was looking for some energy, and it got exactly that out of a diving catch in left field from junior Jenna Johnson to secure the third out of the top of the third inning. After a 13-pitch at-bat from senior Ally Shipman, Shipman grounded one to left, bringing in Johnson for Alabama’s first run of the game.

Later in the inning, senior Kaylee Tow got caught in a rundown. Freshman Dallis Goodnight stole home with her blazing speed and gave Alabama a 2-1 lead.  

In the top of the fourth, Murphy decided to make a change. Fouts entered the game to pitch, replacing Torrence. Torrence finished the game only giving up one hit, but walked five batters in four innings where she had previously only walked six all season.

Fouts performed admirably in relief of Torrence, with four strikeouts in three full innings pitched. Behind Fouts and Torrence, Alabama’s defense backed up its pitchers with excellent fielding.

“The defense behind me is incredible,” Fouts said. “It makes it easier to throw to great batters when they’re making plays like that.”

After a couple scoreless innings, sophomore Kat Grill grounded out to bring in senior Ashley Prange, extending Alabama’s lead to 3-1. That was enough to close out the game and complete the sweep.

Game 2: Miami (Ohio)

In game two of the day, Alabama started in a hole just like against Texas. Miami (Ohio)’s Maggie Murphy hit her first run of the season into left center, giving the Redhawks an early 1-0 lead going into the bottom of the second inning.

Saturday’s games were the first two games of the season that Alabama did not score the first run.

While some of the sellout crowd from the Texas game had gone home, a double play to close out the top of the third inning excited those who were still filling out Rhoads Stadium, as Alabama still looked for its first run.

Sophomore Alex Salter (3-0) made the start in the circle the second game for Alabama, but a similar pattern arose.

Looking to provide a spark once again, Murphy turned to Fouts in the top of the fourth for the second time in one day. Salter allowed three hits in her three innings, including the one home run, and added two strikeouts.

Alabama was struggling batting and had not recorded a hit until the fourth inning, but a double from sophomore Bailey Dowling opened the floodgates. Once Dowling got on base, three Alabama batters were walked, bringing in Dowling for Alabama’s first score of the game. Following the walk, a sac fly from Johnson brought in Tow, giving the Crimson Tide a 2-1 lead, their first of the game.

“Dowling was the first to feel really good about herself, the first to make a really good adjustment,” Murphy said. “She was the only one that really felt good about facing that pitcher.”

The Redhawks responded, though, tying the game at two runs in the fifth after a groundout brought a runner home. Fouts came up big in the fifth, striking out the final batter with two Redhawk runners in scoring position.

Dowling continued her stellar play in the fifth, bombing a two-run home run into left center to give the Crimson Tide a 4-2 lead, which would end up being the final score. Dowling was 2-3 on the day and is batting .277 on the season. The home run was her second of the year, after coming back from an ACL injury that caused her to miss the majority of last season.

“It’s given me a new perspective. I truly play this game because I love it,” Dowling said. “I say a prayer each game asking to stay healthy. It was super cool to come through in that moment. It feels like the first time in forever that that’s happened, so it was really exciting.”