The Crimson Tide remains undefeated after a five game sweep of the weekend. Despite missing two key players, the Tide rolls to 14-0.
The one-two pitching punch of Lexi Kilfoyl and Montana Fouts is proving to be one of the best in the nation.
Bailey Hemphill’s 192 career RBI places her in fourth place in the Alabama record books. She passes the legendary Kelly Kretschman. The Tide senior is now only four behind Whitney Larsen for third and 23 behind Kaila Hunt for second. Charlotte Morgan holds the school record of 264 RBI. Check back on that in a couple of months. B)
Hemphill is fifth in career home runs with 51. Amanda Locke is just ahead of her at 54. Morgan and Hunt have 58 each. Kretschman leads with 60.
Haylie McCleney had 199 career walks in her illustrious Tide career. Hemphill is creeping up on that record too with 187.
GAME 1: ALABAMA 8, MEMPHIS 3
For the first time all season, the Tide failed to score in the first inning. However, they tallied one in the second and three in the third to build a 4-0 advantage.
Montana Fouts was rolling merrily along with nine strikeouts in the first three innings (four victims in the first inning due to a dropped third strike), when Memphis broke out with a single, homer, ground out, and a double before a mound visit seemed to calm her down. Fouts would strike out the next two batters on seven pitches to put out the fire.
Alabama had an answer in the bottom of the frame driving in four runs on a two-run double from Bailey Dowling and a two-run single from Maddie Morgan for an 8-2 lead. Unfortunately, the Tide would not collect another hit for the rest of the game, going down in order in the fifth and sixth.
With one out and a runner on first in the fifth, for some reason Murphy yanked Fouts after 82 pitches in favor of Jaala Torrance. The freshman loaded the bases and allowed a run on a wild pitch but came back to strike out the final two. Fouts (11) and Torrance (5) combined for 16 strikeouts in the game.
With outfielders KB Sides and Jenna Johnson not playing due to injuries, Kayla Davis got the start in right field and went 1 for 3 with a run scored.
GAME 2: ALABAMA 5, MEMPHIS 1
The lethargy from the final two innings of Game 1 carried over to Game 2. Bama picked up a run in the first inning on a sac fly and then fell asleep. There seemed to be a lack of energy for most of the contest. Could it be the absence of Sides? Or maybe Maddie Morgan who did not start? It is hard not to be a fan of both of those Tide players because of the spirit and leadership they bring to the team when they are in the starting lineup.
After three goose eggs on the scoreboard for Alabama, someone needed to provide a spark. Who better than the on-fire Kaylee Tow? The Tide senior celebrated her birthday with a three-run shot over the center field wall in the bottom of the fifth. It was her third round-tripper of the season.
Krystal Goodman (1-0) got her first start of the season and went the distance. She gave up some noisy outs that finally caught up her in the seventh when Memphis got a leadoff home run. But overall, she pitched well, earning the win in a 6-hit, two strikeout complete game.
It was Kat Grill’s turn in right and the true frosh responded with a single, two walks, and a run scored. Bama was outhit 6 to 5 but walked 5 times to none for Memphis. Taylor Clark and Kyra Lockhart both earned starts but failed to take advantage of their opportunities with both going 0 for 3 and a strikeout each.
GAME 3: ALABAMA 2, NORTH CAROLINA 0
It was a game of firsts for the Crimson Tide. Bailey Hemphill rebooted the Alabama first inning scoring trend with her first home run of the season. Taylor Clark started at third and got her first hit of the season (and flashed some slick leather in the field). The biggest first was Lexi Kilfoyl (5-0) tossing the first no-hitter of her Alabama career in 7.0 innings on an economical 84 pitches. She recorded eight strikeouts and one base on balls. She also got her first hit of the season (second of her career) batting for herself. It was also her first double, which knocked in the second run of the game.
GAME 4: ALABAMA 4, NORTH CAROLINA 0
Montana Fouts (6-0) kept the dominant pitching rolling as she threw a two-hit shutout against All-ACC pitcher Brittany Pickett (L, 4-1). The Tide ace collected a dozen strikeouts versus only one walk over seven innings.
The Bama offense took a little while to get going against Pickett until the bottom of 4th. The Crimson Tide scored four on three hits, a walk, and were aided by an error. All of the runs came with two outs. The big blow came courteous of Alexis Mack who doubled in a pair.
In the fifth, Alabama loaded the bases with two outs and Patrick Murphy again made the perplexing move to pinch-hit Sarah Cornell for Kat Grill. Cornell struck out swinging.
Lexi Kilfoyl was again the designated hitter but didn’t do much this time, going 0 for 2 with a walk.
GAME 5: ALABAMA 2, TROY 0
The Tide ran into a buzzsaw on Sunday facing Troy’s Leanna Johnson. The sophomore is second in the nation in strikeouts and added five Bama batters to her total. Little ball is the only thing that could break her spell. Alexis Mack led off the first inning with an infield single, stole second, took third on a passed ball, and scored on a wild pitch.
Sensing a need for runs, Patrick Murphy put on a bunt play in the fourth with one out and Kayla Davis on first base. Bailey Dowling dropped a nice bunt in front of the plate as Davis headed to second. However, Davis had no intention of stopping there and blazed a trail onto third base. A frantic throw from the Trojans’ infielder was off and ended up in left field, allowing Bama to take a 2-0 lead.
Aside from that, there was not a lot going on from Alabama bats. Mack had both hits on the day of Alabama.
In seven innings, Lexi Kilfoyl (6-0) threw only 83 pitches and took down nine Trojans via the strikeout. She allowed three hits and one base on balls. Her counterpart Johnson threw 113 pitches in only six innings. The Tide offense was not up to snuff Sunday, but they sure made Johnson work.
Sunday’s win was the third straight shutout for the Crimson Tide and seventh of the season.
- Lexi Kilfoyl had two shutout wins, yielding three hits and two walks while striking out 17. She has given up one earned run in 45.0 innings this season. Her ERA is a minuscule 0.18.
- Montana Fouts won two games, striking out 23 opposing batters. Amazingly, she did not give up a single fly out. All outs came by way of strikeouts or ground outs.
- Kaylee Tow was 4 for 12 including a double and a round-tripper. She collected 3 runs and 4 RBI.
- Alexis Mack was 5 for 12 with 2 RBI and 4 runs scored.
- At the beginning of the week, Patrick Murphy said that KB Sides and Jenna Johnson would both be out for at least two weeks. If all goes as planned, that would put them returning for the beginning of SEC play at Auburn on March 12. Sides was seen wearing a walking boot.
- Murphy continues to tempt fate. In Game 1, he pinch hit Sarah Cornell who was hit by a pitch on her pitching arm. She was okay, but a few millimeters over could have spelled trouble. As mentioned above, she also made a bases loaded pinch-hitting appearance in Game 3 that ended up in an inning ending strikeout. Why does it feel like Murphy made her some kind of crazy promise that he is determined gets fulfilled? Players like Savannah Woodard, Kat Grill, and Maddie Morgan all need at bats. It is baffling why he keeps doing this.
- Fellow pitcher Lexi Kilfoyl was the designated hitter in Game 1 and was also hit by a pitch. At least she wasn’t pitching in the game as well. She had a sac fly in her only other at bat. As the starting pitcher and batting for herself in Game 3, she was 1 for 2 with a double. However after her extra base hit, she broke for third base on a pop fly and was easily doubled off second for an inning ending double play.
- Bailey Hemphill did not start Game 1 against Memphis but did enter in the fourth to pinch hit for redhot Kaylee Tow with the Tide leading by only 4-2. (???) Surely it was a lefty-right thing but do you really need to pinch-hit for the National Player of the Week who is raking the ball? Hemphill walked.
- It will be fun to watch the development of freshman pitcher Jaala Torrance. She is a tough pitcher and does not get easily flustered.
- Bama seemed lethargic on Friday against a bad Memphis team that they should have smoked. To the Tigers’ credit, they kept fighting and made both contests interesting.
- The Tide showed a little more spirit on Saturday against a decent Tar Heels team. UNC hitters went a combined 2 for 46 against Lexi Kilfoyl and Montana Fouts.
- Fouts has struck out 61 batters in 31.1 innings pitched. That number calculates to just under two outs per inning (1.95) coming via the whiff.
- Kayla Davis, Savannah Woodard, and Kat Grill all earned starts in right field while KB Sides heals.
- Troy’s Leanna Johnson (7-2) is a really good pitcher, probably the best the Tide has faced this year. The Trojans (13-3) should win the Sun Belt and make the Regionals this season.
Wednesday, March 3 vs. #25 Mississippi State 6 p.m. CT
EASTON T-TOWN SHOWDOWN
Friday, March 5 vs. Kent State (DH) 4 p.m. & 6-ish p.m. CT
Saturday, March 6 vs. Northern Iowa (DH) 11 a.m. and 1-ish p.m. CT
Sunday, March 7 vs. South Alabama 1 p.m. CT
*** All games available on SECN or SECN+ ***