The Crimson Tide swept another weekend to move to 20-0 on the season. Bama had three close games but did not falter.
GAME 1: ALABAMA 5, TEXAS 4 -THERE WILL BE BLOODWORTH
More first inning runs for Alabama as Ally Shipman singled in Dallis Goodnight and Ashley Prange for a quick 2-0 advantage. The Tide catcher would take second on the throw and advance to third on a fielding error. Kaylee Tow made the Longhorns pay for that mistake with a follow-up single and a three run lead.
To UT’s credit, they did not slink away and hide in a corner. Proving that she is indeed human, Montana Fouts gave up a pair of absolute bombs to Longhorn hitters - two run shots in the second and fourth innings. I’m talking the softball version of roided-up McGwire-Sosa bombs.
The Goodnight-Shipman connection continued in the third inning when Shipman doubled in the freshman who had singled.
Bama fans got really loud in the fifth inning. Goodnight (2-2, BB) and Shipman (3-3) both got aboard with singles but nobody else could do diddly-squat against the freshman pitcher Sophia Simpson and the game stayed knotted up.
It was the Goodnight-Shipman Show until the bottom of the sixth inning when Megan Bloodworth sent a 3-1 pitch over the left field wall for the go-ahead run.
Fouts (7-0) buckled down and kept the ‘Horns off the bases and off the scoreboard over the last three innings. She would strike out nine, walk one and yield a season-high eight hits (previous high: three).
[If you are scoring at home, Jenna Johnson led off two innings with strikeouts and Goodnight followed up with singles. It was not a (ahem) good night for JJ.]
GAME 2: ALABAMA 3, TEXAS 1 - WALK THIS WAY
With base-running extraordinaire Lexi Kilfoyl on the shelf for the weekend, Jaala Torrence was the number two pitcher for the Crimson Tide. The first inning went smoothly but in the second, the sophomore walked four runners. Fortunately, she only yielded one run.
In the bottom of the third frame, Jenna Johnson led off with a walk and Dallis Goodnight beat out a bunt for a hit. After a costly wild pitch moved the runners up, Ally Shipman collected yet another RBI on a fielder’s choice ground out, scoring Johnson and moving Goodnight to third base. After a Kaylee Tow walk put runners on the corners, Ashley Prange whiffed on a a hit-and-run bunt. Usually solid Texas catcher Mary Iakopo must have forgotten there was a runner on third base because she threw down to second without delay. Goodnight scored easily for the “Ty Cobb”: 2-1 Bama.
After a hit-by-pitch to lead off the fourth inning, Torrence recorded her first strikeout of the game. The next batter singled and her day was over: 3.1 innings, one hit, one K, five walks. This move of course meant only one thing: Montana Fouts. The Tide star pitcher would induce a pair of groundouts to end the threat.
In the bottom of the fourth, Johnson had an outstanding 15 pitch at bat that ended in a hit by pitch. It did not produce a run but it pushed the Texas hurler’s pitch count to over 100. On pitch number 127 in the sixth inning, Prange clobbered the first pitch off the left field wall for a double. A ground out and a walk put runners on the corners for Kat Grill who grounded out but got the run in. At a ridiculous 151 pitches, Texas finally lifted the starter.
Fouts would end the game on nine pitches in the seventh inning.
GAME 3: ALABAMA 4, MIAMI-OHIO 2 - LETHARGY SETS IN
Alabama looked sluggish at the plate and did not record a hit until there was one out in the fourth inning - and even that hit came after the M-O left fielder dropped an easy foul ball out to give the Tide another swing. A side effect of this listlessness was a seemingly disinterested sellout crowd sitting on their hands.
If you predicted that the RedHawks would score first, then get yourself to the closest casino, STAT! Alabama put Alex Salter in the circle and she gave up a no-doubter gopher ball to a .167 hitter for her second RBI of the season. It was also the first college round-tripper for the young lady.
Salter (3.1 inn, 3 hits, 2 K, 1 BB) gave up a one out triple in the fourth inning and Patrick Murphy again brought the hook after 3.1 innings. Montana Fouts once again came to the rescue.
The aforementioned first Crimson Tide hit came from Bailey Dowling who hammered a ball off the outfield wall. The next three Bama batters walked to tie the game. Jenna Johnson would follow with a fly ball sacrifice to take the 2-1 lead. By rule, because of the previously mentioned dropped ball error, the two runs were unearned.
A pair of RedHawks singles and a ground out ties it at 2-2 in the fifth. Bama responded after two outs in the bottom half of the frame when Ally Shipman (who else?) kept the inning alive with a one-base hit. Bailey Dowling hit the next pitch over the left-center field wall for a 4-2 advantage.
In 3.2 innings of relief, Fouts gave up two one-baggers, two walks, and an unearned run. She struck out seven.
A win is a win, but this one was ugly. Only three hits for Bama, two by Dowling. Also, two errors were committed by the Tide.
GAME 4: ALABAMA 10, MIAMI-OHIO 2 (5 Innings) - MARKET CORRECTION
With seemingly no other pitcher on the roster, Patrick Murphy again turned to his workhorse Montana Fouts. The All-American got off to an inauspicious start to say the least. After the very first batter of the game went down on strikes, the second batter belted a ball over the left center field wall. The next two also struck out.
Bama quickly got their revenge with singles by Ashley Prange and Ally Shipman. Kaylee Tow reached on a throwing error and Prange scored. Jenna Johnson doubled in two more. The Tide added five more runs in the second inning on six singles.
Kat Grill and Dallis Goodnight singles, an error, and a sac fly in the third put the score at 10-1. At this point, Murphy felt comfortable giving Fouts some rest in favor of Jaala Torrence. Fouts struck out six in her three innings of work, The home run was the only baserunner she allowed. A RedHawks walk and a triple plated a run in the fourth. It was the only bad mark on Torrence on the day.
*** Lollipop unicorn rainbow chasers, stop reading here lest ye get your feelings hurt! ***
- Kilfoyl and Savannah Woodard again sat out with their state-secret injuries. SO DON’T ASK!
- Ya know how in football they say a team should sign at least one quarterback every year? Well, maybe Alabama softball needs to sign a pitcher every year. This is not the first time Kilfoyl has missed playing time due to a mystery injury and it may not be the last. Murphy probably should have planned for just such a situation. With athletes transferring all around the place, he probably could have grabbed an ace. Heck, I’d take M-O’s Game 3 pitcher.
- It’s unclear why Tow chose Game 1 against All-Big 12 catcher Mary Iakopo to attempt her first stolen base of the season. It was not successful.
- Prange turned a slick double play in Game 1, snagging a line drive and doubling the runner off first. They also had a more conventional 6-4-3 later in the same game.
- Alabama turned several double plays this weekend but also had four errors. They had at least one in each of the first three games.
- Tow was 1 for 8 in the four game set. She scored three runs and walked thrice, but this team needs her to do much more than taking walks. Among the nine regular starters, her batting average is ninth at .250. The Super-Senior has only three extra base hits in two doubles and and one solitary homer.
- Bloodworth’s home run was her only hit of the weekend. She was 1 for 6 with three bases on balls. The encouraging sign is that she makes conatct, evidenced by her zero strike outs.
- Abby Doerr was hitless in seven at bats. She struck out four times and had two walks. She did not play on Sunday.
- Texas defeated M-O in their two match-ups. Despite their poor record, the Longhorns are a talented team. They just need to cut down on the mistakes. The RedHawks are a solid club as well. They were just overmatched this weekend.
- Some of the fans behind home plate looked like they were waiting for a bus: carrying on little conversations, looking a their phones, etc.
Can you imagine where this team would be without Ally Shipman???
- Shipman - 7 for 11 (.636), one 2B, 5 RBI, 4 RUNS, 1 SB.
- Goodnight - 5 for 10 (.500), 5 RUNS, 2 BB, 4 SB.
- Fouts - 4 appearances, 4 wins, 17 innings, 14 HITS, 6 RUNS, 4 EARNED RUNS, 4 BB, 26 K.
- It’s interesting to note that former Texas All-American Miranda Elish (3-4) transferred to Oklahoma State during the off-season because according to Michele Smith “head coach Kenny Gajewski has shown he is able to get the most out of his players, allowing them to play free.” Elish has been a “bad guy” with an ERA over 4 and is responsible for four of OSU’s five losses. Maybe playing “free” is not such a good thing.
- No. 6 Virginia Tech swept three games at No. 13 Clemson.
- Pitt salvaged a three game series with a Sunday win over red hot FSU.
- Troy upset LSU on Friday
UPCOMING ALABAMA SCHEDULE
The Crimson Tide open SEC play on the road at Baton Rouge on Friday. No word on if Fouts will just start all three games...
Monday, March 7 vs. Eastern Illinois 3 p.m. CTCancelled because James Spann sez it’s gonna rain.
- Friday, March 11 at LSU 6 p.m. CT
- Saturday, March 12 at LSU 8 p.m. CT
- Sunday, March 13 at LSU 12 p.m. CT