What a roller coaster weekend it was for the Crimson Tide. A close win, a walk-off, a run rule, and a heartbreaker, were capped by getting BIG monkey off the Tide’s back.
GAME 1: ALABAMA 5, DUKE 4
The most important thing here is that they won. Now, let’s get into the nitty gritty. Early in the game, Bama was looking like the Bama of old - mercilessly battering their opponent and shutting them down at the plate. But that was just the first couple of innings.
The first three Crimson Tide players to bat got hits and they were up by two in the blink of an eye. Kenleigh Cahalan doubled, Ashley Prange singled (RBI) and Ally Shipman doubled (RBI). After two ground outs, Jenna Johnson singled in a third run.
In the second inning, Faith Hensley reached on an error and Prange homered to make it 5-0. Alabama must have thought there was a new 5-run rule this season because after the dinger they put their bats on ice and took their foot off the gas - an ugly trend we saw last season.
The harsh truth is that as soon as Duke took Jala Wright (2-2, ERA 4.50) out midway through the second and replaced her with their fab freshman Cassidy Curd (1-0, 0.79 ERA), the Bama offense fell dead. The Tide had only one hit the rest of the way as Curd struck out five.
IT’S OUTTA HERE ‼️— Duke Softball (@DukeSOFTBALL) February 16, 2023
Kelly with the two-run to cut into the lead
T4 | Alabama 5, 2 pic.twitter.com/IuLQxTuVr9
On the other side, but of course Montana Fouts got the start. The super senior struck out four Blue Devils before they got their first hit of the game. It was catcher Kelly Torres doing all the heavy lifting as she went deep twice on Fouts: a two-run jack in the fourth and a solo shot in the sixth to make it 5-3. A double, wild pitch, and sac fly in the seventh produced another Duke run. After two outs, the Blue Devils again got a runner to third on the ol’ double-wild pitch combination, but Fouts got the last out.
The Alabama 5 through 9 hitters had all of one single for the entire game. Sound familiar?
GAME 2: UCLA 5, ASHLEY PRANGE 3
After a Cahalan single on the first pitch of the game, Prange made the score 2-0 on the fourth pitch with a deep shot to left field against two-time All-American Megan Faraimo.
whoa, deja vu.
But of course Fouts again got the start and she was less than (ahem) perfect. With a quick two run lead, the Tide’s All-American did not retire any of the first four batters. A single, double, and walk was followed by a Jordan Woolery grand slam. It is the only home run of the freshman’s young college career. Fouts struck out the next three batters to get out of the inning.
It was Prange again providing the offense by victimizing Faraimo to lead off the third inning with a solo home run. However, the Tide could not muster any more offense, generating only two more baserunners. UCLA would add one more insurance run in the fourth.
Lauren Esman pitched the final 1.1 innings without yielding a run.
GAME 3: ALABAMA 6, UCF 5 - 8 Inning Walk-off
Jaala Torrence made her first appearance of the weekend. She was perfect through the first eight batters until she gave up a home run to the number nine batter in only her third at bat of the season. UCF pushed one more run across the plate for a 2-0 lead. A solo home run led off the fourth inning and Jaala’s day was over. Alex Salter entered and gave up a run.
The Bama bats and some UCF miscues put up a crooked number on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth inning with two outs. After Kali Heivilin’s two-run dinger, Faith Hensley was hit by a pitch and Center Florida made a pitching change. The next two batters walked and Prange was hit by pitch for a painful RBI.
Ally Shipman singled in a pair of runs and Alabama would hold a 5-4 advantage.
Back in the circle, Salter could not hold the lead, allowing a solo shot in the top of the fifth. Fouts would enter her sixth straight game and strike out the final two of the inning. It was donuts across the scoreboard until the eighth when the stupid ghost runner rule went into effect. Each subsequent inning starts with the last batter to make an out to be placed on second base (HATE). It did not bother Fouts too much as she struck out the side.
Clips are still rolling in!— Out of the Box (@OutoftheBox_Pod) February 19, 2023
Against UCF, the freshman Kristen White stepped up in extras with a single to walk it off and give @AlabamaSB a 6-5 win.
Here’s @TCanterburyRTR’s call and the @UA_CTSN booth reaction: pic.twitter.com/yasvBoE45T
In the bottom of the frame, speedy Jenna Johnson was put on second. A Heivilin sac fly moved JJ up a station. Freshman Kristen White would get the first big hit of her fledgling college career with a game-winning slap single that ticked off the pitcher’s glove for the walk-off win.
GAME 4: ALABAMA 10, INDIANA 0 - 5 Innings Run Rule
Alabama again got off to a hot start with runs in each of the first three innings. Johnson had a RBI single in the first. Cahalan doubled in two in the second. And four Tide hits plated three in the third. Bama bats took the fourth inning off but were back in the fifth with four more runs highlighted by RBI hits from reserves Abby Duchscherer, Jordan Stephens, and a two-run single by starter White.
Starting pitcher Lauren Esman shut the Hoosiers down in the bottom of the fifth for the run rule victory. She allowed three singles, a double and one walk over 5.0 innings for her first college win.
This game could have gone much differently if not for the Haylie McCleney-like diving catch by Jordan Stephens with the bases loaded in the third. Kristen White also made a crazy amazing catch that saw her crash into the flexible centerfield wall and rob a Hoo of a home run.
Not to discount the win, but Indiana is an awful team. They were also run ruled by Mississippi State and shut out by Auburn and Arkansas.
GAME 4: ALABAMA 2, FSU 1
Perhaps with the two-game 2021 WCWS elimination refreshed in her mind, Fouts returned to the circle and was a bulldog for seven innings and got an efficient 106-pitch win over the ‘Noles. Bama’s ace gave up four hits and struck out 7.
The Tide did just enough to solve 88th year senior Kathryn Sandercock. Kenleigh Cahalan got the first Alabama hit of the game taking the All-American deep to left center in the fourth. After two outs, Bailey Dowling would hit her first bomb of the season with a no-doubter to left to give the Crimson Tide a 2-0 lead. FSU would answer back with a solo shot in the top of 5th but they would score no more. Alabama would only connect for three hits and no walks in the game, but that is just how the game goes sometimes.
Alabama would strike out only once in the game and that was against Makenna Reid who only pitched to the final two Bama batters.
*** Lollipop unicorn rainbow chasers, stop reading here lest ye get your feelings hurt! ***
- For the most part, the Alabama defense played solid and made some really nice plays. After an error-free opening weekend, 2B Kenleigh Cahalan had the first team boot of the season in the Duke game. Ally Shipman had an errant throw to second on a FSU stolen base attempt but the runner would be stranded at third.
- Kali Heivilin made a great diving catch running back from shortstop into the outfield on a pop up.
- In the UCLA game, Fouts struck out her final four batters including two in the fifth before being lifted for Esman in that inning. The assumption has to be that Fouts was on a pitch count as she had just thrown her 103rd of the day.
- The Gut® started Aubrey Barnhart at first base and batted her fifth against the the #2/2/3/4 Bruins. She had only one 2023 plate appearance before this game and the struck out in both her plate appearances. Emma Broadfoot would pinch hit for her and also whiff. In that same game, LF Jenna Johnson also twice went down on strikes and her pinch hitter, Abby Duchscherer, struck out as well.
- As a team, the Tide struck out 26 times and took only 6 bases on balls over the weekend.
- Oddly enough, Prange went hitless in four at bats against godawful Indiana. It is the only game this season in which she has not recorded a hit.
- Freshman Marlie Giles started behind the plate against Indy and was 3 for 3 with 2 runs, one RBI, and a stolen base. Nobody expects her to go 3 for 3 every time, but this is encouraging that Bama might have a solid back-up who can give Shipman a rest every now and then, and maybe be the heir apparent for the future. It’s only one game, but worth keeping an eye on.
- FSU pitchers threw only 69 pitches in their 2-1 loss to the Tide.
- I’m probably jinxing it but Bama batters have yet to hit into a double play thus far.
- Kat Grill got only one at bat (vs Indy) but played in all five games as a pinch-runner or late game defensive replacement (first base and left field).
- It’s still early in the season, but Faith Hensley is not living up to her preseason billing. The reigning MAC Player of the Year was hitless in two starts (0-5) vs Duke and UCF. Her batting average languishes at .111 with one hit and four Ks.
- Despite the game-winning HR on Sunday, Bailey Dowling is only hitting .190 with 3 RBI in 21 at bats, all in the clean-up spot. She has left a good many runners on base.
- Alabama has 10 home runs over eight games by five different players. Here’s to hoping that trend continues.
- Fouts had a few hiccups this weekend, but threw a TON of pitches. She is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA. Her line this weekend was 21.4 IP, 18 HITS, 10 RUNS, 4 BB, 31 K with 3 wins and a loss.
- Torrence and Salter are not instilling any confidence that they can get batters out.
- Esman tossed 6.1 innings over two games (UCLA, Indy) allowing three hits and no runs. It is an encouraging sign but a true measuring stick might come when she throws a full game against a Power team. That opportunity may not come until Arkansas comes to town in mid-March.
The starting lineup is proving much more consistent than it was last season. Dowling has still yet to play defense.
1B Emma Broadfoot (4 games)
1B Aubrey Barnhart (1 game)
2B Kenleigh Cahalan (5 games)
SS Kali Heivilin (5 games)
3B Ashley Prange (5 games)
LF Jenna Johnson (5 games)
CF Kristen White (3 games)
CF Faith Hensley (2 games)
RF Larissa Preuitt (4 games)
RF Jordan Stephens (1 game)
C Ally Shipman (4 games)
C Marlie Giles (1 game)
DP Bailey Dowling (4 games)
DP Ally Shipman (1 game)
- PRANGE - 6 for 17 (.353), 4 RUNS, 7 RBI, 3 HR.
- SHIPMAN - 6 for 15 (.400), 2 RUNS, 3 RBI, 2 2B, 1 SB, 1 K
- CAHALAN - 5 for 16 (.313), 5 RUNS, 3 RBI, 2 2B, 1 HR
UPCOMING ALABAMA SCHEDULE
The Crimson Tide returns to their cupcakes starting with a one-off at home with Samford. Next, it’s a powerhouse trio of Kennesaw State, Southeastern Louisiana, and the Indiana State Larry Birds.
- Wednesday, February 22 vs Samford 6 p.m. CT -
- Friday, February 24 vs Kennesaw State 4 p.m. CT -
- Friday, February 24 vs Southeastern Louisiana 6:30 p.m. CT -
- Saturday, February 25 vs Indiana State 11 a.m. CT -
- Saturday, February 25 vs Southeastern Louisiana 1:30 p.m. CT
- Sunday, February 26 vs Kennesaw State 1 p.m. CT
* All games are relegated to streaming on SEC+.
Feeling better about Team27?
This poll is closed
Yes, most definitely.
Maybe. Let’s give it a few more weeks.
No. Pitching is still a concern.
Other (see my adroit observations is the comments section).