It has been two long years ago that the Women’s College World Series was last held. In that tournament, Alabama made it to the Final Four before falling to Oklahoma. Today, they begin their quest for the second championship in school history against the Arizona Wildcats.
The National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) named Alabama’s Montana Fouts as a unanimous first team selection at pitcher. Catcher Bailey Hemphill joins her battery mate on the first team. Kaylee Tow was selected on the third team at first base. The honor is the third for Tow, previously making the list in 2018 and 2019, and the second for both Fouts and Hemphill who were second-team honorees in 2019. No selections were made in 2020.
The Wildcats and Crimson Tide were originally scheduled to meet up in February of this year in Austin, Texas but Mother Nature put the kibosh on the tournament.
- Feb 16, 2019 (Tuscon): BAMA 6, AZ 1
- June 1, 2019 (WCWS): BAMA 2, AZ 0
- Feb 28, 2020 (Tuscaloosa): AZ 2, BAMA 1
- Feb 29, 2020 (Tuscaloosa): AZ 6, BAMA 5
As mentioned yesterday, the Wildcats might be one of the sneaky-scariest team left in the bracket. They are scoring a bunch of runs in the postseason.
- May 21 - UMBC W, 7-0
- May 22 - Ole Miss W, 12-6
- MAY 23 - Ole Miss W, 12-6
- MAY 28 - Arkansas W, 10-4
- MAY 29 - Arkansas W, 4-1
The ‘Cats have some hitters. They don’t hit a ton of doubles and triples but have the fourth best home run total among Power teams with 94. The team average is .326 - third among Power teams.
Clean-up hitter Dejah Mulipola (.401, 21 HR, 63 RBI, 52 runs) has been named catcher on the USA Olympic team. She has Jessie Harper (.327, 15 HR, 48 RBI, 42 runs) hitting in front of her and Sharlize Palacios (.355, 18 HR, 57 RBI) batting behind her. Janelle Meoño is hitting a robust .439 in the leadoff spot and has crossed the plate 44 times. One glaring stat is that despite Meoño’s team-leading 69 hits, she only has 9 RBI. This likely translates to the inability of hitters at the back end of the order not getting in position to score.
Arizona does not steal too many bases, taking 27 in 30 attempts. Alabama has swiped 89 of 105.
As good as the offense has been, the pitching is a little suspect. Alyssa Denham (19-8, 1.88 ERA) is labeled as the “ace”, but she has struggled as of late. In her last five appearances, she has two wins, two losses and a no decision in which she gave up six runs to Ole Miss and saw the hook after 3.2 innings. She has 106 strikeouts but 49 walks - which could spell trouble against a patient Bama team who has seen her in the past. At 6’1”, the super senior is long and lean much like Alabama’s Montana Fouts. She will most likely get tonight’s start, but coach Mike Candrea may have her on a short leash. If that should happen, the ‘Cats will turn to Hanah Bowen (10-3, 2.00 ERA) or Mariah Lopez (9-2, 2.61 ERA). All three of these slingers are vulnerable to giving up the longball with all three allowing 11 or more each. The staff as a whole has yielded 45 round-trippers this season. Alabama has given up 24.
Arizona is tied for second in the nation in fielding percentage at .984. The Wildcats have committed only 22 errors. Only Oklahoma has less with 17. Alabama has 52 boots for a .967 percentage.
By now, there is no mystery to Alabama. They love the small ball and can drive the most competent of defenses to make devastating mistakes. In the tournamnet so far, Bama has gotten unexpected homers from Jenna Johnson, Taylor Clark, and Maddie Morgan at the bottom of the order. One never knows who the hero will be in any given game... besides Bailey Hemphill of course.
It will take a team of Clydesdale horses to get Montana Fouts out of the circle tonight. She has been pitching with an otherworldly intensity.
Sadly, the Bama game will be called by Beth Mowins. She is joined by Jessica Mendoza and Michele Smith with Holly Rowe roaming around the stadium.
Arizona vs. Alabama 6pm CT ESPN
- JMU hit a solo home run in the eighth inning to beat Oklahoma 4-3!
- UCLA is down a pitcher for today. We’ll see if she returns later in the tournament.
- Okie Lite leads UGA 2-0 in the bottom of the 4th.