Florida State did not finish their Saturday game until 2:18 in the morning, but it was Alabama who was sleepwalking on Sunday. After the extreme high of Montana Fouts’s perfect game against UCLA, the Tide came out with no fire in their bellies. Even worse, coach Patrick Murphy dug back into his bag of bad pinch-hitting choices and it cost Bama the game.
FSU 2, ALABAMA 0
Both teams decided to play for the next game by starting their number two pitcher. For FSU, it worked out as Caylan Arnold (11-6) confounded the Tide batters. Alabama managed only two hits and one walk in a pathetic performance.
Bailey Hemphill recorded a single and a walk in her first two at bats. She was the only one to reach base in the first four innings with FSU’s ace sitting in the dugout. In the fifth inning, Maddie Morgan got a rally going with a one out single. Taylor Clark was hit by a pitch and the Crimson Tide was in business. But alas... Murphy made one of his trademark baffling moves, and one that has failed so many times this season. He once again pinch-hit Lexi Kilfoyl for Elissa Brown. And once again, Kilfoyl struck out.
There are so many things dumb about this move. Let’s count them, shall we?
- Brown is a senior who has played in close to 250 games at Alabama. Give her a chance!
- Brown is a .383 hitter with 8 Ks on the season.
- With two on and one out, Brown gives you a better chance for chaos on the base paths which often leads to mistakes by the opposing defenses.
- Kilfoyl is 10 for 48 (.208) with 17 Ks, which is fourth most on the team.
- Kilfoyl has not swung a bat in a game since April.
- Kilfoyl was the game’s starting pitcher and pitching a marvelous game. Why take her out of her head and make her hit, and then make her shift gears again and go back out on the mound?
- He has made this exact move before and had the exact same result.
- This decision damaged the psyches of both players and made a listless team even more sluggish.
Now with two outs, who comes to plate? Brown’s fellow slap/bunt hitter Alexis Mack. Did Murph pinch-hit for her? Nope. She grounded out and the threat was gone.
Back in the circle, Kilfoyl was not the same pitcher. This sort of thing has happened this season as well. Murphy has Lexi hit in a big moment, she strikes out, and then loses her rhythm as a pitcher.
The ‘Noles loaded the bases on singles and Kilfoyl walked in a run. FSU tacked on a second run in the sixth, but after it was 1-0, it felt like the game was over. Some viewers may want to blame the umpire’s strike zone, but I know where my blame lies.
Bama went down in order is the sixth (5 pitches) and seventh (7 pitches) like they had a plane to catch. If they keep playing like they did on Sunday, they might actually be on a plane real soon.
THIS ‘N’ THAT
For the uninitiated, this section is for frank observations. Some good, some bad. If you believe that clapping your hands will bring Tinkerbell back to life, stop reading and go find someone who will blow rainbows up your nether regions. There are plenty of them out there.
- Why has Murphy lost faith in Brown? I know she is a slap/bunt hitter but she produces results. First off, I am not crazy about his trendy “second leadoff hitter” strategy of batting her ninth. She has scored 39 runs this season after tallying 50 in 2019. Her stolen base total has been cut in half: 24 to 48. This scheme has been tried in baseball and most coaches have abandoned it because it doesn’t work. Now this season, he is pinching for Brown in key at bats with players hitting .200 or lower. It is an absolute waste of Brown’s talent.
- I honestly thought that Murphy would go for the kill and start Fouts against FSU.
- Kilfoyl pitched a good enough game but her teammates - outside of Hemphill - let her down. She also made some really sharp defensive plays.
- Kaylee Tow straight up dropped a thrown ball at the back end of a double play attempt. The runner probably still would have been safe, but it was alarming.
- After hitting a few dingers last month, Clark has gone back to being awful at the plate again. She has not gotten a hit since her three run homer in the second inning against Clemson.
- KB Sides is 0-for-the-WCWS.
- Morgan looked like the only fired up Alabama player on Sunday.
- Bama reached second base once in this game and ventured no further.
- FSU had a head-scratcher of their own bringing Kathryn Sandercock in to pitch the final 2.1 innings. Arnold was doing fine and they will need Sandercock tomorrow.
- There is no reason to have ESPN’s Holly Rowe on these games. She brings nothing to the entertainment of the broadcasts.
James Madison’s run might be coming to an end. They lost the first game to Oklahoma on Sunday 6-3 and play an elimination game Monday. The drudgery of high-level play may be catching up with super senior pitcher Odicci Alexander as she did not look good in the circle and also got hit with a pitch as batter. The Dukes are fortunate they did not have to play a second game on Sunday.
Two elimination games are pushed to Monday. Winners head to the best-of-three final that starts on Tuesday.
- Oklahoma vs JMU 3pm CT - ESPN
- FSU vs Alabama 6pm CT or 30 mins after conclusion of Okie-JMU - ESPN