Thursday night’s Game 1 of the Tuscaloosa Super Regional started out as a pitchers’ duel as Alabama freshman Montana Fouts and Texas junior Miranda Elish went toe-to-toe for the first time through the order until Alabama’s number nine hitter Merris Schroder sent a bomb over the right center field wall with a runner on third.
The four-bagger completely changed the vibe of the game in the Tide’s favor. In the bottom of the fourth, Alabama added another run by way of forcing the opposition into mistakes. Aggressive intelligent baserunning has been the Crimson Tide’s M.O. all season and it once again paid off with an unearned run.
The Rhoads House crowd deserves a lot of credit because they had the stadium a-rockin’! I’d go as far as say that Elish seemed a little rattled by the amount of noise emanating from the stands. After the fourth inning, Texas made an unusual move of taking out their ace in favor of their third pitcher. In a 3-0 game, the strategy felt a bit like they were playing for tomorrow. This was the shortest appearance by Elish since March 15 loss to Tennessee.
Fouts (W, 18-4), on the other hand, was flat out dominant. She pitched a 3-hit shutout with 5 strikeouts and no walks on an economical 97 pitches. Whatever funk she was in last weekend, Coach Patrick Murphy and his staff got their ace back on track. She even fielded pretty well and looked pretty cool doing it.
This is the Fouts Alabama fans want to see. She was focused and in control, and looked like the dangerous pitcher that we know she can be.
May 24 (Fri) vs Texas 8pm CT ESPN -
I believe Alabama will be the “away” team, meaning Texas will get the last at-bats.
Logic dictates that the ‘Horns start freshman Shealyn O’Leary (13-2, ERA 0.54). However, there is a good chance that Elish gets dragged out to the circle at the first moment of falter by O’Leary. Or Elish may even start again. She did get an early hook in Game 1 after 62 pitches.
Alabama may start Sarah Cornell (21-1, ERA 2.39) but don’t discount Murphy’s desire to go for the throat and utilize Fouts.
May 25 (Sat) vs Texas (if necessary) 1pm CT ESPN
All games can be heard on 93.3 FM as well.
In the only other game of the day, 13-seed Oklahoma State upset ESPN darling Florida State in Tallahassee 3-1 in 9 innings. The 4-seed Seminoles will have to win the next two in order to return to Oklahoma City to defend their national championship.