I have been covering Alabama softball for over a decade and I cannot remember a season in which the Crimson Tide had squandered so many opportunities. I don’t think this is a bad team. It’s just that they seem broken and that is squarely on the coaching staff.
It is unfair to blame pitching coach Lance McMahon. The 2-3 pitchers have improved and been better than expected. Plus, what new are you going to teach Montana Fouts? No, the blame has to go to Head Coach Patrick Murphy and his Head Cheerleader Alyson Habetz. One of the hardest undertakings for softball and baseball coaches is keeping their teams prepared and fired up for every game. This duo is failing those tasks and their team.
GAME 1: TEXAS 5, ALABAMA 3
From the get-go, Montana Fouts did not look herself. The second batter she faced laced a long line drive down the third base line that just barely ticked off left fielder Jenna Johnson’s glove. The play was reviewed as a potential foul ball but not overturned - most likely due to lack of overwhelming evidence. Fouts would strand the runner at third.
Two innings later, a Texas single and double put runners at second and third. Fouts would comeback to strike out the next batter. The next Longhorn grounded to third, catching the baserunner in a rundown as Ashley Prange threw home. Ally Shipman threw back but then Prange made the critical error of trying to dive to tag the runner. She missed and the score was 1-0 with runners moving up.
Again with runners on second and third and one out, Ally Shipman had a circle visit with Fouts. The Tide ace looked a little rattled by the visit. It would make sense after Shipman returned to her position because Patrick Murphy called for an intentional walk. Being the competitor she is, Fouts was probably not to enthusiastic about this move. So, Murphy’s Gut® move was to walked Longhorn in favor of Viviana Martinez who just happened to be hitting .515 on the year. A double on the first pitch plated two more Longhorns.
After a strikeout, a dribbling grounder to Prange was thrown to Emma Broadfoot at first but it tipped off her glove. Prange perhaps unfairly got the error on what looked like a catchable ball on a bang-bang play at first. Two more would score for a 5-0 Texas advantage. After the final out of the inning, Fouts would not return to the game.
Alex Salter pitched the 4th yielding a pair of singles but no runs.
Prange puts Alabama on the board @a_prange #Team27 #RollTide pic.twitter.com/s1VubV2MjT— Alabama Softball (@AlabamaSB) March 11, 2023
With two outs in the top of the 5th, Faith Hensley was hit by pitch and Cahalan singled. The UT pitcher hung a pitch to Prange and she made her pay for it with a three RBI bomb over the left-centerfield wall. Shipman followed with a double but Bailey Dowling popped up for the third out.
Hensley and Cahalan singled in the seventh, but Prange and Shipman struck out to end the game.
GAME 2: TEXAS STATE 3, ALABAMA 1
I warned you all about Jessica Mullins in the preview post. She is for real and a player that Murphy should have recruited in the off-season. Instead, he took a gamble on a project pitcher. The TSU ace bamboozled the Tide who did not reach first base until the ninth hitter Kristen White had a bunt single in the third. The Tide’s second and final hit of the game was a Shipman double in the 7th inning. She would score the only run on a pair of fly outs.
Bama started Lauren Esman. Bobcat Sara Vanderford took her deep in the second for the team’s sixth round-tripper of the season. Texas State produced another run in the third and Murphy pulled his starter in favor of Jaala Torrence. Despite pitching well, Torrence (1.1 inn, 0 hits, 1 BB, 1 K) was yanked for Salter in the fifth. Salter gave up six hits, two walks and a run over the final 2.2 innings.
Another ridiculous loss.
GAME 3: ALABAMA 4, TEXAS 3 - 11 innings
Even more ridiculous was the Tide coming back a few hours later and topping the Longhorns in extras with Prange going 0-6.
Murphy started White at the top of the order and shifted everyone else down a notch. Kenleigh Cahalan doubled in the first and was knocked in on a Shipman single. In the second, Jenna Johnson picked up a pair of RBIs with a single.
Texas picked up a run in the bottom of the 3rd on a double, wild pitch, and sac fly. UT would tie it up in the next frame on two unearned runs courteous of boots by Prange and Kali Heivilin.
The freshman comes through big in the 11th@cahalankenleigh#Team27 #RollTide pic.twitter.com/1psDwIpVEh— Alabama Softball (@AlabamaSB) March 12, 2023
The game remained tied until the top of 11th. Larissa Preuitt was hit by pitch and advanced to second on a ground out. Cahalan knocked her in with a one-bagger that would prove the game-winner.
Montana Fouts pitched all 11 innings hurling an outlandish 162 pitches - both career highs. She gave up five hits, one earned run, and struck out 15.
GAME 4: WISCONSIN 7, ALABAMA 6
After a late night extra innings game and losing an hour to the daylight savings change, Bama had to return to the diamond at 9:30 a.m. CT Sunday morning. Murphy again tinkered with the batting order. White hit first and Larissa Preuitt second. Shipman was the DP and Dowling rode the pine but made a late pinch-hit appearance.
This was a wild roller coaster of a game. Bama took an early 1-0 lead in the first frame scoring an unearned run without benefit of a hit. In the fourth inning, everything went goofy. Starter Jaala Torrence was doing fine until she hit two Badgers batters and gave up a two run double - the first hit for UW. Esman entered the game and got the third out.
Bama quickly answered with a three run jack to left center by Kali Heivilin. But the fireworks did not stop there. Wisky retook the lead in the fifth at 5-4 and Salter relieved Esman. The Tide again responded with two runs off a Shipman home run. The lead was short-lived. After giving up a double in the sixth, Salter left in favor of Fouts who proceeded to give up a two run homer to the first batter she faced. That was the last hit of the game for either team.
Another ugly loss.
*** Lollipop unicorn rainbow chasers, stop reading here lest ye get your feelings hurt! ***
The RBR softball coverage will call them as we see them and will not change because some reader(s) got upset because someone declared Patrick to not be a Saint. We are not going to blow sunshine up your backsides and pretend everything is all unicorns frolicking in a field of gumdrops and lollipops when it is not. If that is the sort of thing you want, there are plenty of sunshine-pumpers out there willing to fill your pretty little head with that sort of malarkey.
I'm glad to see Patrick Murphy and @AlabamaSB are readers of https://t.co/DrJI5V3ggP— CB969 (@CB969onRBR) March 10, 2023
Alabama and Texas are using the Safety Double First Base. pic.twitter.com/Uj9fWKsubL
- Unbelievable. Two more losses to meh teams and a win against a super power. When things like this happen, it is probably an ill-prepared and unfocused team. Getting caught looking beyond an opponent to the next one can prove costly.
- In Game 1 and 4, we again saw the trend of Fouts having one bad inning. This time it cost her.
- The Alabama coaching staff might want to think about practicing the defense of rundowns. It was pretty poor technique by both Prange and Shipman.
- Texas State pitcher Jessica Mullins struck out the side swinging (Shipman, Dowling, Hensley) in the fourth inning. She whiffed eight.
- Still no word on why Dowling has yet to play in the field. You never want to hope for an injury but if this is a coach decision, she might just leave after the season is over. I would think at the very least, the former shortstop could play first base.
- White was again called out during a rally for leaving first base early. Great coaching, first base coach.
- Montana Fouts now stands at 998. I doubt she was celebrating much.
- Alabama was 24 for 122 in the four game set. That is a team batting average of .197. The Tide struck out 29 times and walked only six times all weekend.
- Prange had a rough Game 1 in the field (see above). Despite her home run in that game, the errors must have been eating at her because she committed errors in her next two games and went 0 for 12 over the last three games.
- Broadfoot was 0-6. Dowling went 1-11. Heivilin got two hits in 11 at bats.
- CAHALAN – 5-15 (.333), 4 RUNS, 1 RBI, two 2B
UPCOMING ALABAMA SCHEDULE
- Tuesday, March 14 at North Alabama 6 p.m. CT Florence, AL - probably no TV or stream
- Saturday, March 18 vs Arkansas 4:30 p.m. CT Tuscaloosa, AL - SEC Network
- Sunday, March 19 vs Arkansas 5 p.m. CT Tuscaloosa, AL - SEC Network
- Monday, March 20 vs Arkansas 6 p.m. CT Tuscaloosa, AL - SEC Network
- Wednesday, March 22 vs UAB 6 p.m. CT Tuscaloosa, AL - assume SECN+
Can Alabama rebound from the poor showing this weekend?
Yes, just a blip.
Not sure. Ask me again in a week.
No, this is a train wreck.