Stop me if you have heard this one before: Alabama ace Montana Fouts strikes out double digits and Bailey Hemphill goes yard.
ALABAMA 5, ARIZONA 1
The Crimson Tide got going early manufacturing a run in the opening frame. In the third inning, Arizona made the mistake of throwing Hemphill a pitch she could get her bat on and just like that it was 2-0 Bama.
In the sixth, Maddie Morgan drove in Savannah Woodard with two outs to make it a three-run lead. Alabama continues to get some post-season power from unexpected sources when pinch-hitter Abby Doerr followed Morgan’s two-bagger by sending a ball over the opposite field wall in left centerfield to push the lead to five.
Fouts was almost perfect, baffling the Wildcats hitters for 6.2 innings. She whiffed 16 of 21 batters with no walks and two hits allowed. The newly crowned All-American struck out eight of the first nine she faced and struck out the side four times. She did make one mistake with two outs in the seventh when Jessie Harper hit a solo shot for the only Zona run of the day. However, Fouts came back to strike out US Olympian Dejah Mulipola for a third time to end the game.
THIS ‘N’ THAT
For the uninitiated, this section is for observations. Some good, some bad. However, it’s mostly good this time. If you believe in unicorns, stop reading here.
- Tide shortstop Taylor Clark turned a nifty double play that erased the only other Wildcat baserunner. Most of the other Alabama players never touched the ball in the field.
- Aside from opting to pitch to Hemphill with the bases empty, Arizona’s legendary coach Mike Candrea made the odd choice of starting Hanah Bowen (L, 10-4) over his ace Alyssa Denham. You would think such a seasoned coach would know better. In big games, you should always go with your heart and soul pitcher. I’m not buying whatever explanation that has been knocked around. Candrea was either trying to be cute or was overthinking things. [ED.NOTE: It is quite okay if the Zona rage mob wants to jump on my case over calling out their “living legend”.]
- Even more strange, it was Mariah Lopez who got both the wins when Arizona defeated Alabama twice in 2020.
- Hemphill was seen getting a bandage on a large raspberry on her upper shin after her first inning slide into home. There was nothing wrong with her technique. I have the feeling the field crew did not properly water down the box after the earlier games.
- KB Sides did not reach base but had two really hard hit balls that were caught. It was good to see her swing the bat like that.
- Kaylee Tow had an 11 pitch at bat in the first that turned into a walk. This certainly helped other Tide batters and coaches get a look at Bowen’s stuff. The next batter, Jenna Johnson, got a single that put Bama up 1-0.
- Six different Bama hitters recorded hits. Morgan had two hits including the game’s only double.
- Patrick Murphy was 50-50 on his gut feeling pinch hits. The first one was a bit perplexing and it’s something he has previously done this season. With a mere 2-0 lead and the game far from being over in the fourth inning, Murph sent freshman KJ Haney who has all of one hit in her college career to the plate for senior Elissa Brown (.391). Of course she made an out.
- The second gut feeling was, of course, the Doerr home run. However, the circumstances were completely different. First off, it was the sixth inning with what looked like an insurmountable Alabama 3-0 advantage. Secondly, Doerr hit for Clark who was sporting a .185 batting average and had not had a hit since the second Clemson game on May 23. Even if Doerr had made an out, I would’ve been okay with that move.
It is interesting that Alabama has received two prime time slots in as many days. It is also interestng to note that Friday’s games were originally scheduled to air on ESPNU. They are now slated for ESPN2. #BestSoftballFansInTheCountry
- JMU vs OSU Friday 6pm CT ESPN2
- UCLA or FSU vs. Alabama Friday 8:30pm CT ESPN2
- Losers play on Saturday.
- Unseeded JMU hit a solo home run in the eighth inning to take down top-seeded Oklahoma 4-3. The Dukes had three hits on the day: a single and two dingers. Super senior, Odicci Alexander struck out nine Sooners in a complete game win. Her only mistake was a three-run jack by NFCA Freshman of the Year Tiare Jennings.
- Oklahoma State led 3-1 going into the final inning when UGA pushed a run across the plate. The Dawgs had a chance to tie or take the lead with runners on second and third with one out, but failed.
- If you did not see the news earlier, UCLA pitcher Megan Faraimo has a hand injury and did not make the trip to Oklahoma City. It is still possible that she joins the team later in the tournament.