Softball wins regular season finale, series over No. 23 Missouri on Tow’s ‘Senior Day’


Courtesy of UA Athletics

Alabama first baseman Kaylee Tow (12) fires up her teammates in the Crimson Tide’s 3-1 victory over the No. 23 Missouri Tigers on May 8 at Rhoads Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Blake Byler, Assistant Sports Editor

Alabama softball won its regular season finale Sunday afternoon – and its second straight game for the first time since mid-April.

The No. 8 Crimson Tide (41-10, 16-8 SEC) won the rubber match over No. 23 Missouri (33-19, 12-12 SEC) 3-1, securing the series victory as well as clinching the second seed in the SEC Tournament next weekend.

“We went through a lot of ups and downs,” Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said. “They’re a great group to coach. I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can do in the postseason. We’re going to start to hit, I guarantee it.”

Before the game, Alabama honored first baseman Kaylee Tow on her senior day with a video tribute. The Crimson Tide also painted Tow’s number 12 behind second base to honor her. The initials of its senior managers were also painted along the third base line.

“Today has been a dream come true from start to finish,” Tow said. “I know that this program is about the person over the player. I am so grateful for everything they did for me today. I’m going to fight for them until the very last day because this is my family and the people that I love the most.”

Freshman Kali Heivilin was inserted into the starting lineup for the first time in an SEC series and was ready for her chance, batting 2-for-3 on the day.

“We say all the time, if you get an opportunity, be ready for it,” Murphy said. “She [Heivilin] was ready for it. She’s been working hard. She’s a great defender, has a great arm.”

Alabama’s star pitcher Montana Fouts (22-5) made her second start of the series in the circle, striking out six batters while allowing just four hits and zero earned runs.

Unlike the first two games of the series where the majority of runs were scored in the first few innings, Sunday’s Game 3 saw a scoreless opening frame. Alabama threatened in the first two innings with runners on second and third in both, but was unable to capitalize on the runners in scoring position in both instances.

It took until the fourth inning for the first run to be put on the board. What looked like a routine out became a throwing error from Fouts that sailed over Tow’s head, allowing Missouri to send a runner home to take the 1-0 lead.

Alabama answered immediately, which has become a theme over the course of the season. With two runners on, senior Ashley Prange sent a three-run home run into left field to give the Crimson Tide a 3-1 lead. The play was reviewed as it seemed like Missouri’s left fielder kept the ball in play at the wall, but the call on the field was upheld to the displeasure of Missouri fans in the crowd.

The home run was Prange’s eighth of the season, enough to tie her with senior Ally Shipman for second on the team and one back of the team leader, sophomore Bailey Dowling.

“I got beat inside my previous at bat – right after the walk – and I told myself she’s not going to get me there again,” Prange said.

Fouts continued to deal over the remainder of the game, as both teams held the opposing offenses in check until the game ended.

The victory secures Alabama’s spot as the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament, which will take place next weekend in Gainesville, Florida. The tournament begins on Tuesday, but Alabama will not play until the quarterfinal round on Thursday after receiving a double-bye for being a top-four seed.

“I think good things are coming,” Tow said.