Wow. Who saw that coming?
It’s like deja vu all over again. The Crimson Tide travel to mid-Appalachia in midweek April to mess with everyone’s emotions and concentration and lookie what happens. Reminiscent of last season, the Tide lose to a mid-major. Shocking.
Fortunately, Patrick Murphy scheduled two games to better his odds of coming away with a win.
A rockstar welcome for Montana Fouts@MontanaFouts #Team27 #RollTide pic.twitter.com/7XN0myyOS1— Alabama Softball (@AlabamaSB) April 18, 2023
“Rock star” is an understatement.
GAME 1: LIBERTY 5, ALABAMA 3
Perhaps still giddy over Alex Salter’s unexpected complete game shutout win over Missy State, Patrick Murphy’s Gut® started the redshirt sophomore. As expected, the Flames went with junior Karlie Keeney.
The Tide quickly got on the board in the first inning when Ally Shipman walked and was small-balled around the bases to make it 1-0.
Salter no-hit the Libbys in the first two innings but of course we cannot have nice things. The second batter of the third hit a solo home run. The next two batters walked and Montana Fouts had to relieve her. After a double steal, the Flames picked up another run on a fielder’s choice.
Ashley Prange singled in a run in the fourth to tie it up and Bailey Dowling’s solo shot in the fifth made it a 3-2 Bama advantage. However, the Flames struck right back in the bottom of the frame. Stop me if you have heard this one before. An 11-pitch walk and an error was followed by a three-run homer off Fouts. Following that inning, the Tide politely went down in order for the loss.
Keeney (20-6) gets the complete game win. Fouts (17-7) takes the loss. Thank goodness this game was not broadcast.
GAME 2: ALABAMA 3, MARSHALL 1
Murphy threw a curveball and sent Lauren Esman (4-2) out to the circle to start the game. She responded to the challenge by denying a base to the first 13 batters she faced. A single in the fifth inning was the only Thundering Herd hit of the day against Esman.
Bailey Bomb breaks up the scoreless tie‼️ @DowlingBailey— Alabama Softball (@AlabamaSB) April 18, 2023
ESPN+ | https://t.co/pSHWTKkJX8#Team27 #RollTide pic.twitter.com/piqOT1Rcgg
Like Liberty, Marshall also went with their ace against the Tide. Sydney Nester (20-5) had a one-hitter going through five innings. The Tide finally broke through in the sixth inning when Shipman doubled and Dowling homered. Kenleigh Cahalan followed with a single and was sacrificed to second. That is when the ol’ Gut® decided to pinch-hit little used Marlie Giles for red-hot hitting Jenna Johnson. Absolutely no reason to get a big rally going, right? Of course, she struck out, but a wild pitch and a Marshall error would plate Cahalan for a 3-0 lead. With things going too well, The Gut® sent Jordan Stephens to the plate to strikeout for Kali Heivilin and end the inning.
A leadoff walk in the bottom of the seventh inning sent Murphy hastily scurrying to the circle to bring in Fouts for Esman (that is some thank you for pitching the best game of your life, huh?). After a pop out and a strikeout, the Marshall base runner stole second and would score when the next batter singled. Yep, that run goes on Esman’s stats. (THANKS, MURPH!)
The last batter struck out and Bama salvaged a split. Now let’s never talk of an April midweek trip to Appalachia ever again.
*** 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.
- In Game 1, The Gut® again went with Prange at leadoff and Cahalan hitting second (combined 1-8). TBH, it wasn’t all that successful against MSU but he went with it anyway.
- In Game 2, The Gut® must have pulled names out of a hat and turned in a lineup card of Prange, Shipman, Dowling, Cahalan.
- Prange was 1 for 6 in the two games.
- Cahalan continues to struggle at the plate (1 for 7). Her average dipped down to the lowest it has been all season at .316 after Game 1 but ticked up to .322 after getting one hit in Game 2. If only she had a batting coach...
- After four straight starts at second base, Dowling went back to DH for both games. ?!?!?!!
- It always seems to be a walk that precedes the homers given up by Fouts. Being the competitor she is, it probably frustrates her to give up a base on balls and it knocks her out of her rhythm. A good manager would recognize this pattern and call a
moundcircle meeting to right the ship.
- I don’t quite understand why Murphy could not let Esman finish out her one-hit shutout - the best game she has ever pitched. I suppose he thought it was more important to give Fouts a curtain call after blowing the first game than it was to encourage a struggling young pitcher.
- Former Alabama player Savannah Woodard is now playing for Liberty. Her team got the win but she was 0-3 with a K. She is hitting (gulp) .171 on the season with ten errors.
- Kat Grill started as DH for all three games last weekend and went hitless in five at bats with three Ks. She got one pinch-hit appearance in Game 2 and struck out.
- Either Keeney or Nestor would have made a nice No. 2 pitcher for the Tide this season.
- All three stolen bases given up today came with Fouts in the circle. But, shhhh! Don’t tell the coaching staff.
- Habetz did a great job clapping her hands today.
- With 7 strikeouts over the two games, Fouts now has 1,112 in Alabama career whiffs. She is eleven behind tying Stephanie VanBrakle.
- 1,219 Kelsi Dunne 2008-11
- 1,113 Stephanie VanBrakle 2003-06
- 1,102 Montana Fouts 2019-pres.
- 1,063 Alexis Osorio 2015-18
- Prange took a foul ball off the foot against Marshall but stayed in the game.
- Both games had a max capacty of 2,768 fans. Plenty of fans in attendance donned the crimson and white.
- DOWLING: 4-7 (.571), 2 HR, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 2 RUNS
- SHIPMAN: 4-6 (.667), 1 2B, 2 RUNS,
- ESMAN: WIN, 6.0 INNINGS, 1 HIT, 1 WALK, 1 RUN ALLOWED (BY FOUTS)
- Friday, April 21 vs Auburn 8 p.m. CT Tuscaloosa, AL - SEC Network
- Saturday, April 22 vs Auburn 3 p.m. CT Tuscaloosa, AL - SEC Network - Also A-Day
- Sunday, April 23 vs Auburn 11:30 a.m. CT Tuscaloosa, AL - ESPN
Should Murphy have left Esman in?
This poll is closed
Yes, at least one more batter and see how she does.
No, don’t want to take a chance.
No, Fouts curtain call is more important.
Other (See comments).