“I don’t want to waste a failure.” ~ Nick Saban
GAME 1: GEORGIA 5, ALABAMA 3 - Three Blind Umps
Montana Fouts was looking great as she struck out five of the first nine Dawgs she faced. However, the second time through the order UGA collected three runs on four hits and a walk in the fourth inning.
As it has been much of the season, it was Ally Shipman who had to be the one to provide the offensive spark for the Tide. The Bama catcher hit a monster solo home run in the bottom of the fourth frame but still trailed 3-1.
And then things got ugly. It is always unfortunate when mistakes and arrogance of officiating affects the outcome of a game.
For future reference, this first picture is considered a swinging strike in @SEC softball. The second picture is a ball. Thanks for clearing that up, @SECOfficiating.— CB969 (@CB969onRBR) April 2, 2022
Back-to-back hitters: @AlabamaSB vs Georgia. pic.twitter.com/fliaw9c4wF
In the bottom of the fifth, Alabama loaded the bases for Shipman. On a clear check swing (see above), the Georgia catcher appealed to the third base and that umpire called it a strike. First off, it was clearly not a swing. Secondly, third base umpires are not the ones who make those calls on right-handed batters. It is the first base umpires who are supposed to make that ruling. Patrick Murphy approached home plate to ask the umpire about it and was quickly ejected without much explanation. It was almost as if the man in blue knew he was wrong and didn’t want to hear about it.
After having the Georgia pitcher on the ropes, the whole incident would swing the momentum UGA’s way. Shipman would strike out looking (only her sixth whiff of the year) to end the threat. To make things worse, the Bulldogs got a gift ball call on a check swing for the first batter of the very next half inning that was much worse than Shipman’s swing.
Fouts (15-2) later gave up a two-run bomb in the sixth and would be relieved in the seventh by Lexi Kilfoyl with the Tide down 5-1.
Megan Bloodworth answered with a two RBI double but that was the only other highlight for the Tide. Kaylee Tow was 0 for 4 and left three runners on base.
GAME 2: ALABAMA 9, GEORGIA 3 - Hitting is Contagious
For the first time in a good long while, the Crimson Tide strung along a streak of hot hitting for a big inning against a Power-5 team.
The first two innings flew by with not much action. UGA scored first when of all Bulldogs, shortstop Ellie Armistead hit a solo shot in the third. A walk and a double plated another run to put Bama in a two-run hole. Alabama quickly answered as Ashley Prange doubled in Megan Bloodworth in the bottom of the frame.
However, Georgia struck back with a third run in the fourth after Lexi Kilfoyl walked a pair and gave up a single. But after that inning, Kilfoyl was on fire. She would strike out two batters in each of the next three innings. But back to the streak of hot hitting...
In the bottom of 4th, The Gut® got a win as starting DH Aubrey Barnhart doubled in a run and Jenna Johnson knocked her in with a one-bagger to tie the game 3-3. In the sixth inning, the Tide exploded for six runs on six hits and two walks. It started out with Johnson blasting her fourth round-tripper of the season and ended with Ally Shipman’s two RBI single plus Bailey Dowling knocking in a ninth run to push the score to 9-3. UGA used four pitchers in the inning to no avail.
Bama is at their very best when everyone contributes. In this game, every Tide player either collected at least one RBI or one run.
GAME 3: ALABAMA 9, GEORGIA 0 - six innings
Either the The Gut® took over the lineup card or Patrick Murphy is an avid reader of RBR. Montana Fouts got the night off and for the second day in a row, Lexi Kilfoyl took to the circle. And she was fantastic. The Tide junior looked sharp and struck out ten Bulldogs en route to a six inning perfect game no-hitter.
With Georgia returning to their freshman sensation Madison Kerpics who won Game 1, both teams were throwing donuts. Bama had a single in the second inning but the runner was erased on a line out double play, pitcher to first. In the fourth, the Tide had runners and second and third with one and later loaded the bases but strikeouts killed the rally.
However for the second straight game, Alabama strung together multiple hits for a six run inning. All nine Bama starters reached base in that fifth inning with the Tide collecting four singles and two walks. The big hits in the inning came from... wait for it... Ally Shipman and Jenna Johnson who both knocked in a pair of runs with their hits. UGA went through three pitchers but they all gave up runs.
Meanwhile back in the circle, Kilfoyl continued her dominance by striking out two more Bulldogs in the top of the sixth. In the bottom of the inning, her battery mate Shipman ended the game in walk-off fashion with a three run home run that cleared the left field wall. And the celebration was on.
Kilfoyl (7-2) has now won three straight decisions while not even picking up a bat. Hmmm...
*** Lollipop unicorn rainbow chasers, stop reading here lest ye get your feelings hurt! ***
I believe we have some new readers this week, so I need to explain the above sentence. The below section are honest opinions and stats of what is going on with this team. If you want to have sunshine blown up your nether regions, there are plenty of people who will tell you fairy tales about puppy dog kisses and jellybeans raining from the sky. RBR is not that kind of site.
- As Saban is famous to say, “never waste a failure.” Perhaps Murphy was listening... and watching. We here at RBR have been saying for years that the future of college softball is the power game and not the slap-and-dash of yesteryear. Pitching is always vital but homers are the future of softball offense.
- If you haven’t been paying attention, Jenna Johnson is turning into a superstar and a leader on the team. The third year player is coming up with big hit after big hit. Whether it is setting the table or knocking others in, she has been exceptional this season.
- On the other side of the coin is Tow. We are deep enough into the season in which you can call certain moments “trends”. One is Tow’s inability to come up with momentum shifting hits. The three-time All-American twice came up to bat in big moments in Game 1 and came up empty both times. She also grounded out in between teammate hits in a Game 2 rally. After going 1 for 9 in the series, her average is down to .271 after last year’s .362. It might be wise to move her down in the order while she works out whatever this funk is she is going through.
- Another disturbing trend is Fouts absolutely dominating and then having “one of those innings” where she gets rocked. It seems to be happening more this year that last. I am going to blame it on the intense pressure Murphy put on his ace early in the season and for not getting any more quality pitching behind her and Kilfoyl. Back when Kilfoyl got hurt earlier in the season, it was all Fouts against the tougher teams. That is a lot to put on one player and it’s curious whether that it is messing with her psyche. Sports are supposed to be fun, but you hadn’t seen Fouts smiling much during games as of late. Perhaps Murphy sensed this and gave Fouts Monday night off. After her teammate’s no-no, Fouts was leading the celebration. Having Ace 1a and 1b would be good for this team. It makes you wonder what the plan is for this weekend at No. 8 Florida. The Gut® has a lot of contemplating to do.
- Make up your mind, Murph! Savannah Woodard started Game 1 and batted second in the lineup. After striking out and lining out in her first two at bats, she was twice pinch-hit for. She did not start Game 2 or 3.
- The Gut® Report: In Game 1, Aubrey Barnhart pinch hit for Woodard and walked. Jenna Lord pinch hit for Abby Doerr and walked. Kat Grill also pinch hit for Woodard but whiffed. Doerr in turn pinch hit for Dallis Goodnight in Game 2. Her RBI single continued a second rally in a big sixth inning. Barnhart started Games 2 and 3 as DH but was 1 for 6 with one RBI and two Ks.
- Goodnight, that girl is fast! The Bama freshman’s batting average is up to .367 and has a team leading 16 stolen bases and 33 runs scored.
- No error here. Shipman now has a .404 batting average. She leads the Tide with 7 round-trippers and 43 RBI - almost double Johnson’s 22.
- In what has become an annual event, Bama was wearing teal in Game 1 to promote ovarian cancer awareness. In previous years, it is just an accent color to the unis. This year, it was full on teal tops. It is a wonderful gesture but dang that color is ugly. It just doesn’t look right on a Tide athlete unless that player is playing for the Dolphins.
- Alabama had only one error in the three game series but it did not result in a run. Bloodworth started a highlight reel double play in Game 2.
- Side note: I think the Game 2 uniforms (above), might be one of my favorites. What say you?
- One of the best moments of the weekend was when ESPN’s booth audio went out leaving fans to listen to the crowd and spare them from endless mouth diarrhea of Beth Mowins and the monotone growl of Michele Smith for a brief time period.
- All three games against Georgia were sellouts at the Rhoads House and the place was rocking! That gives Alabama ten sellouts on the year. In addition, the Crimson Tide have also sold every ticket for the upcoming game in Albertville (see below) and the Friday-Saturday games against Mississippi State (Apr 15-16). The March 15 road game versus Southern Miss in Hattiesburg was also at capacity thanks mostly to Bama fans.
- SHIPMAN - 5 for 11 (.455), 3 RUNS, 8 RBI, 2 HR, 1 SB.
- KILFOYL - 2 WINS including a perfect No-No, 19 Ks in three appearances.
- DOWLING - 4 for 8 (.500), 1 RUN, 2 RBI, 1 2B, 2 BB, hits in all three games.
- GRILL - 3 for 6 (.500), 3 RUNS, 1 SB in two starts (both wins).
- JOHNSON - 3 for 9 (.333), 1 RUN, 5 RBI, 1 HR.
- PRANGE - 3 for 7 (.429), 1 RUN, 1 RBI, 1 2B, 4 BB.
UPCOMING ALABAMA SCHEDULE
It doesn’t get easier for the Tide with a huge road trip to Gainesville next weekend. It will also be the first time Alabama faces former teammate Skylar Wallace who is hitting .482 with 4 HR and 24 RBI. DRAMA!
- Wednesday, April 6 vs Jacksonville State 6 p.m. CT - makeup game of the Sand Mountain Showdown in Albertville, AL. No TV because propping up a cell phone and streaming on Facebook or YouTube is just too darned difficult.
- Saturday, April 9 at Florida 4 p.m. CT - MOVED TO ESPN!
- Sunday, April 10 at Florida 3 p.m. CT - ESPN2
- Monday, April 11 at Florida 6 p.m. CT - SECN