If Alabama can just sweep... Well. So much for that. Bama won two of three against unranked Missouri. However, the Crimson Tide may have the softball gods smiling down on them as chaos reigned supreme this weekend. Think 2011 college football Week 12 chaos. But more on that later.
GAME 1: MIZZOU 3, ALABAMA 2 (8 innings)
The first inning of this game is indicative of the deep funk the Crimson Tide is in right now. After two strikeouts sandwiching a single, the fourth batter of the game, Kimberly Wert, hit a long shot to centerfield off Montana Fouts that should have been caught. However, it went off Savannah Woodard’s glove and over the fence for the Tiger’s 16th homer of the season.
The ball looked like it would have stayed in play had it not been misplayed and probably should have been ruled an error. It would seem that Patrick Murphy was following his Gut® by starting Woodard over Dallis Goodnight in center. Woodard would mysteriously disappear from the game after that inning and not return until the final inning on Sunday.
Ashley Prange responded 2-0 deficit by leading off the Alabama half of the inning with a solo home run of her own.
Bailey Dowling would follow suit in the fourth to tie it at 2-2.
Then came a whole lotta nothing.
Murphy’s glaring pitching staff issues were magnified in the eighth inning of a tie game when overworked Fouts (140 pitches) returned to the circle. After allowing two singles, a wild pitch moved runners up a base. Anyone with eyeballs could tell the Tide ace was wearing down. Too bad Murph doesn’t have any other pitchers he could go to in such a situation. After and intentional walk to Wert, the go-ahead run was unintentionally walked on five pitches scoring the go-ahead run.
Fouts’s 14 strikeout effort was all for naught as the Tide quietly went down in the bottom of the frame for their fourth loss in the last five games. Bama batters struck out seven times. They had leadoff hits in the fifth and seventh who were left stranded. Kaylee Tow twice ended innings with and out after Dowling had a hit.
GAME 2: ALABAMA 3, MIZZOU 1
Alex Salter got the surprise start and was pitching okay but was often living dangerously. She gave up a deep solo home run in the first inning and allowed seven hits in 4.1 innings. Mizzou would put multiple runners on bases in every inning she was in the circle. Patrick Murphy finally pulled her in the fifth when the Tigers put runners at the corners with one out. Can you imagine who came into pitch? I’ll give you five guesses and the first four won’t count. Alabama got REAL lucky as the first batter grounded to Ashley Prange who fired a throw home to nail the lead runner. Great fortune because You-know-who (21-5) threw a wild pitch to advance the runners and then hit the Mizz batter to load the bases. However, she would settle down and strike out the next batter to end the threat.
For Alabama’s part, Ally Shipman singled in the first inning and was doubled in by Bailey Dowling. But after that, it was back again with donuts. The Tide went down in order in the second and third frames; if not for a Dowling walk, the fourth as well. A single and an error put two on with one out in the fifth inning, but Bama could do nothing with the opportunity.
Finally in the bottom of the sixth, Alabama solved Laurin Krings (13-8). After Kaylee Tow made an out, Shipman doubled and Dowling walked. After a ground out advanced runners to second and third, Abby Doerr singled to left center pushing the score to 3-1.
GAME 3: ALABAMA 3, MIZZOU 1
Sunday’s game looked like it was going to be “one of those games”. Alabama put the first two batters on base in the first and second but innings had nothing to show for it. Another Tide runner was stranded in the third.
After - GUESS WHO! - set down nine straight Tigers, a throwing error by the Crimson Tide ace in the fourth inning gave Missouri a 1-0 advantage. Fortunately for the Tide, Ashley Prange decided to transfer to Alabama in the off-season and smacked a ball that went off the top of the fence and was ruled a three-run homer to put the Tide up 3-1 in the fourth inning.
The umpire’s call of a dinger appears to be erroneous. However, since a home run was already called on the field, the play was not eligible to be overturned via replay. Thank goodness for the blunder because the hit probably would have scored only one run and the Bama bats immediately went cold again with only a Kali Heivilin single in the sixth the rest of the way.
Fouts (22-5) whiffed only six but held Mizzy to four singles and had one intentional walk.
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- It has been such a backwards run for Bama. From mid-March they played really well against ranked teams Kentucky, UGA, and Florida. The games that followed were supposed to be the easy stretch. UNA and Alcorn should’ve been run-rule wins. TAMU, WKU, and Mizzou should’ve have been a clean sweep to end the season. It has not worked out that way.
- Murphy continues to tinker with the batting lineup at a point in the season when it should be set in stone. The Gut® rules supreme! Bow down, ye peasants.
- Someone needs to call OSHA on Murphy. He is overworking poor Fouts who threw 140, 44, and 124 pitches on three consecutive days.
- Here we go with the mysteries again. Lexi Kilfoyl has not pitched since April 23 at Texas A&M - a game in which the junior was hit for seven earned runs in 1.1 innings.
- Bama has not scored more than four runs in the last eight games. The most recent occurrence was against little ol’ UNA on April 19 when the Tide won 6-1.
- The Crimson Tide has not had a big inning of more than three runs scored since scoring five runs in the third inning of the series opener against Florida almost a month ago, April 9.
- While usually run-happy, Alabama did not attempt a stolen base in the entire series.
- If you thought Tow would be re-energized after her big homecoming last week, you would be mistaken. The Tide Super-Senior went 0 for 8 on the weekend, and also tallied another error at first base - three in six games. 2022 was supposed to be a big year for Tow but her stats are down across the board. It has been a highly disappointing performance from the former All-American this season.
- Goodnight and Jenna Johnson also went hitless.
- Of the four highest batting averages on Alabama, none of the players were on the team last season: Shipman (.352), Prange (.348), Goodnight (.315), and Bloodworth (.313).
- For some odd reason, The Gut® pinch-hit Woodard (9 for 49 on the season) in the bottom of sixth in a 3-1 game for Jenna Lord who was 1 for 2 at that point. She struck out. After Heivilin singled, Gut McGutterson pinched Aubrey Barnhart for Kat Grill (2 for 5 on the weekend) and she hit into an inning ending double play.
- I have a feeling Woodard will not be on the team next year. Just a hunch.
- Another one from My Gut (patent pending): don’t be surprised when Bama has a key player or two transfer out or not return over the off-season (a la KB Sides and/or Maddie Morgan).
- Alabama sold out all three games which is a damn shame. These Tide fans show up, get loud and supportive, and this team just does not feed off that at all.
- Arkansas set a new single season program home run record of 100 round-trippers and guess where they finished in the SEC standings, Murph! The game has changed. Come join us here in the 2020s!
- Some of you kind readers might think I have been harsh this season. The Tide did finish 41-10 overall and 16-8 in the conference. However, they did not have to face Arkansas or Tennessee this season. They had some inexcusable losses and have barely scratched by on several others thanks to the tireless wizardry of Fouts. I suppose I expect better like what is going on in Norman, OK and Tallahassee, FL.
- FOUTS - 17.2 innings pitched, two wins, one hardluck loss, 308 pitches, 12 hits, 3 ER, 3 unintentional walks, 26 K.
- DOWLING - 4 for 8 (.500), 2 RUNS, 2 RBI, 2B, HR, 2 BB, 0 K.
- PRANGE - 2 for 9 (.222), but the two hits were HR, 2 RUNS, 4 RBI.
UPCOMING ALABAMA SCHEDULE
Alabama got a little help from some expected sources and unexpected sources. #6/7/7/8 Northwestern who is right behind the Tide in the rankings was inexplicably run-ruled by barely .500 Minnesota on Friday and Saturday by identical 8-0 scores. The Wildcats will not get a top 8 seeding. #6/6/7/7 Oklahoma State had a chance to make a statement with a two-fer against FSU and three with the Patty Gasso Killing Machine but got swept all five games by the ‘Noles and Sooners.
Washington lost two of three to unranked 24-loss Utah, but Arizona State won two of three against #4/5 UCLA at home. The PAC-12 does not have a conference tournament for some reason. However, ASU and UW will play a three game series this coming weekend. Behind them are teams like Florida, Kentucky, and Texas who Alabama has already defeated.
The SEC Tournament in Gainesville, FL is next for Alabama. As the second seed, Bama will play the winner of 7-Missouri and 10-Auburn on Thursday, May 12 at 1:30pm CT. Win that one and they likely face 3-Tennessee or 6-LSU on Friday at 2pm. If Alabama can win at least two games and get to the finals, they should still earn a top 8 seed.