Alabama coach Patrick Murphy made the controversial decision to start Montana Fouts in the circle for Alabama less than 24 hours after she threw 135 pitches against Kentucky. In the beginning, it looked like a mistake after All-SEC Vol Kiki Milloy led off the game with a triple and scored on a ground out for a quick 1-0 UT advantage. Bama’s ace came back in the second inning and struck out the side and was cruising along until the fourth when she gave up three consecutive singles to allow a second run. But the real drama was yet to come.
In the bottom of the first, Alabama loaded the bases for Savannah Woodard. The Tide sophomore tapped the ball to the pitcher (which was charitably ruled a single) who in her haste could not get a clean handle on it and threw late to first base to plate a run. Meanwhile, KB Sides had rounded second and baited an errant pickoff throw from the Vols first baseman that sent a second Bama runner home.
Up 2-1 in the third inning with a runner on third, the unlikeliest of heroes stepped to the plate. Light-hitting Taylor Clark found a pitch she liked a belted it over the centerfield wall for the first home run of her Alabama career.
Up 4-2 in the top of the sixth inning, Murphy made an odd move of removing Fouts after a flyout and a single. It could’ve been a pitch count decision since she was at 98 pitches. This instance would have been a good time for Murphy to go with his gut and leave her in the game because the next move was a poor one. Lexi Kilfoyl had not thrown a pitch in a game since April 10 and it showed. She proceeded to allow two walks, two singles, and throw two wild pitches as the Vols retook the lead 5-4. In softball, substituted players are allowed to re-enter the game and that is what Fouts did. Only this was a different Fouts. She had fire in her eyes. She would strike out Milloy on four pitches to end the inning.
In the bottom of the frame, it was time for another Bailey Bomb with the Tide catcher hitting a two RBI homer to snatch the lead right back.
BAILEY HEMPHILL‼️‼️‼️ she becomes the all-time leading HR in program history with a two-run home run to retake the lead 6-5 in the bottom of the sixth!!!!! That’s her third of the tournament— Brett Greenberg (@74Talk) May 15, 2021
It appeared that the Tennessee manager was going to bring in her ace Ashley Rogers to pitch but she waited too long and Bama had the 6-5 lead.
In the seventh inning, Fouts slammed and broke the dang door as she struck out the side with the intensity that could light Times Square. She put away Tennessee’s four best batters - Milloy, Amanda Ayala, Ashley Morgan, and Ally Shipman - in straight order for the win.
THIS N THAT
- We are sometimes tough on Clark, but I will say this about her: she has fun. Every time she gets a hit or makes a play with her glove, she has a big smile on her face.
- From the head-scratching department: Murph pinch-hit Abby Doerr for fellow left-handed batter KB Sides for some reason. She grounded into an inning-ending double-play.
- Kaylee Tow was 3 for 3 in this game and is 4 for 5 in the tournament.
- Fouts finished with 13 strikeouts after tossing 15 the night before. She has one walk apiece in each game.
- In case you just came out of a coma, Hemp has three home runs in the last two games and breaks the school career record.
- The Tide has a current winning streak of 12 games. Their last losses were two consecutive home defeats to Florida on April 16 and 17.
The Crimson Tide move on to the SECT Championship Game against Natty Light-swilling hothead Tim Walton and his Gators at 5pm/6pm on ESPN2.
Florida had drama of their own in the earlier game as Mizzou scored four runs in the top of the seventh including a three-run jack to take a 6-5 lead. However, the Tigers had an absolute meltdown giving up two in the bottom of the inning without the benefit of a hit: Walk, HBP, SAC, SAC-FLY, Error, Ball Game.
Bama has beaten a blue team and an orange team so far this week. Hopefully on Saturday, they’ll defeat a blue and orange team.