This series was an encouraging and impressive one for the Crimson Tide. Mississippi State is no Oklahoma, but the Dogs are a tough team. Alabama is hitting their stride at just the right time. Between Montana Fouts hurling the ball so well and the offense putting up some crooked numbers on the scoreboard, this Team 26 is starting to look like a real contender for the WCWS trophy.
GAME 1: ALABAMA 2, MISSISSIPPI STATE 1 - A Wild Ending
Softball fans were treated to classic Montana Fouts on Thursday night as she struck out 11 Bullies over seven innings. Little did they know, Mississippi State had an ace up their sleeve as well. Unheralded Aspen Wesley pitched the game of her life, confounding the Crimson Tide batters for most of the game. The only action for the first five innings was the Taco vs Hot Sauce race.
In the top of the sixth inning of a scoreless game, MSU put a runner at second with one out. At this point, Patrick Murphy’s Gut® made his first appearance of the game. Rather than face the dangerous slugger Mia Davidson, he ordered Fouts to intentionally walk her. The next batter, Chloe Malau’ulu, promptly singled to load the bases. A sacrifice fly would put the Bulldogs up by a run... briefly...
Megan Bloodworth led of the bottom half of the inning with a home run blast to left field for only the second Tide hit of the game.
I suppose MSU coach Samantha Ricketts was still spooked by the Bloodworth homer. After getting the next two out, Wesley was replaced by Huntsville native and Troy transfer Annie Willis to face Ashley Prange and Ally Shipman. Prange walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch (store that one away for later) but Shipman struck out to end the inning.
Fouts (17-3) quickly took care of business in the seventh with a fly out and a pair of Ks. Bailey Dowling led off Alabama’s half of the inning with a single. A Kaylee Tow single moved pinch runner Savannah Woodard to third. With Jenna Lord at the plate, Willis threw a wild pitch and Woodard would cross the plate for the walk-off victory.
GAME 2: ALABAMA 8, MISSISSIPPI STATE 6 - Bombs Away!
Friday night’s game was another wild and crazy come-from-behind walk-off win for the Tide.
This one had a strange feeling from the beginning when it was announced that Jaala Torrence would be starting in the circle. With Montana Fouts pitching Game 1, the logical conclusion would be that Lexi Kilfoyl would take the ball in Game 2. Bama softball fans know full well that getting water from a stone is easier than getting a straight answer of Patrick Murphy. According to one report, Kilfoyl “wasn’t feeling well and was unavailable for Friday night’s game.” ¯\_ツ_/¯
Torrence had a rough go of it. After the first MSU batter of the game reached base on an Ashley Prange error, Mia Davidson knocked the ball out of the park for an early 2-0 lead. Three singles and three walks in the second would end the day for Torrence trailing 4-0. Little used Alex Salter would enter and walk in a run, but get the final two outs of the inning.
And then, the comeback began.
In the bottom of the second inning, Kaylee Tow would lead off with a solo shot to left center.
Things went quiet for the next three innings until the sixth. In the top half of the frame, MSU added a sixth run and things were looking dour for the Crimson Tide. But then, everything changed. Leadoff batter Bailey Dowling, who has been red hot at the plate, woke up the bench with a “Bailey Bomb” to left field.
After a Kaylee Tow walk, it was Jenna Lord’s turn. If you went to go make a sandwich, by the tine you came back it was 6-4.
With two on and two out in the seventh, Montana Fouts (18-3) entered to pitch for Salter and struck out Chloe Malau’uluto end the threat.
With one down in the seventh, Ally Shipman inched the Tide closer with her eighth four-bagger of the season.
After Tow walked and Lord singled, Megan Bloodworth ended it with a 2-RBI double.
Every Bama starter had at least one hit except Jenna Johnson. Jenna Lord finished the game 3 for 4 with two RBI and a run scored.
GAME 3: ALABAMA 4, MISSISSIPPI STATE 0 - Fouts Routs
When the Bullies dream, their nightmare must have Montana Fouts (19-3) in a starring role. The Tide senior again dominated MSU allowing only three singles and striking out 11.
Kat Grill showed off her speed in the third inning by rounding the bases on a four base error by Mia Davidson. The MSU catcher overthrew first on Grill’s bunt and sent the ball deep into the right field corner.
In the bottom of the fifth, Jenna Johnson led off with a single. Grill followed suit with a single and Ashley Prange walked. The Gut® got a big win when he sent Aubrey Barnhart to the plate to pinch-hit for Dallis Goodnight. Barnhart delivered a two run single for a 3-0 lead.
A Bailey Dowling, groundout would plate another Bama runner, which was more than enough run support the way Fouts was dealing. The Crimson Tide ace would shutout the Bulldogs for her third win and second complete game of the weekend.
*** Lollipop unicorn rainbow chasers, stop reading here lest ye get your feelings hurt! ***
- Outside of the absense of Kilfoyl, the series went pretty well for the Crimson Tide. The freshmen continue to deliver as this team continues to jell.
- About the only spots struggling are the ones at the top of the order. Goodnight (1 for 8, 0 runs, 0 RBI) and Johnson (1 for 7, 1 run, 0 RBI) are struggling at the plate and Murphy has been pinch-hitting for them on occasion. On the bright side, neither outfielder struck out this weekend. In Games 2 and 3, Prange led off for the first time as a Bama player. She collected one hit and one walk in each game but had few RBI opportunities.
- In that same Game 2, Johnson was lifted for Woodard to begin the fourth and she remained in the game. Woodard is seeing increased playing time which is encouraging. It has been pinch appearances but she has played in the outfield as well.
- In Game 3, Johnson was called out at first for leaving the base early. Wow, is she in a funk right now.
- Tow’s Game 2 home run was her first round-tripper since launching one against South Carolina on March 25. She has four on the season.
- Both halves of the fifth inning of Game 2 were ended by double plays. Prange made up for her earlier error in the game by turning a smooth twin-killing.
- Abby Doerr struck out in both of her plate appearances this weekend. I don’t think she will be winning back the designated hitter spot from J-Lo anytime soon.
- You want consistent pitching? Check out Fouts’ stats line from her two starts.
- The Crimson Tide is 27-4 this season when scoring first.
- FUN FACT: MSU has more players on the roster from California (4), Alabama (3), and North Carolina (3) than they do from Mississippi (2).
- With the Mouth and the Monotone off annoying some other fan base, TV viewers were treated with the superior announcing team of Eric Frede and Madison Shipman. Yes, that is Ally’s older sister who was an All-American at Tennessee.
- The finale had a two hour rain delay and had to be moved to streaming.
- Kudos to whoever runs the @AlabamaSB Twitter account. That person does a great job with pictures, videos, and updates.
- Rhoads had two more sellouts this weekend. Saturday’s attendance was 115 short of the 3940 capacity.
- Alabama is now 36-6 overall and 13-5 in the SEC. The Tide takes a commanding lead over Arkansas (10-4) in the conference standings.
- FOUTS - all three wins are hers. 14.1 innings pitched, 6 hits allowed, no extra-base hits, one earned run, 23 Ks. If she is not SEC Pitcher of the Week, then there is something seriously wrong in Birmingham.
- BLOODWORTH - 3 for 8 (.375), 1 RUN, 3 RBI, 2B, HR.
- GRILL - 3 for 7 (.429), 2B, 2 RUNS, BB
- SALTER came up big for the Tide with her 5.1 innings of relief in Game 2. She walked six and yielded five hits but allowed only one run that kept the Bullies close until her offense could complete the comeback.
UPCOMING ALABAMA SCHEDULE
After a rare doubleheader on Tuesday, it’s off to College Station, TX for a trio of games.
- Tuesday, April 19 vs. UNA 3:45 p.m. CT
- Tuesday, April 19 vs. Alcorn State 6 p.m. CT
- Friday, April 22 at Texas A&M 6 p.m. CT
- Saturday, April 23 at Texas A&M 6 p.m. CT
- Sunday, April 24 at Texas A&M 12 p.m. CT