Alabama Softball Walks Off South Carolina in Extra Innings
After winning their first SEC series against the Missouri Tigers, the Alabama softball team traveled home to start another SEC series In the first game of a three-game series against the South Carolina Gamecocks. Team 27 won 2-1 in nine innings.
In what turned out to be a pitching duel, head coach Patrick Murphy decided to start the ace of the Alabama pitching rotation, Montana Fouts. The 2021 First-Team All-American pitched all nine innings, threw 152 total pitches, was perfect through four innings, allowed only three hits, and struck out the Gamecocks 15 times.
"She (Montana) has been awesome for us and I think she retired the last 10 batters tonight," said Murphy. "She got stronger after the kid hit a ball and it hit her in the ribcage but I really think she got stronger after that. She probably got upset and took it to them (South Carolina)."
Throughout the first two and a half innings, both teams could not get people on base. While the Alabama defense did its job, the offense could not capitalize due to Leah Powell's pitching for the Gamecocks. Finally, in the bottom of the third inning, Alabama opened up the scoring. With Kenleigh Cahalan on third base and Kali Heivilin on first base with 0 outs, Ashley Prange came up to and hit a single which brought in Cahalan for the first run of the day.
South Carolina then responded in the top of the fifth inning. After breaking Fouts perfect game with a Riley Blampied single, the Gamecocks got two more people on base to set up Emma Sellers. With one out to spare, Sellers grounded out but barely beat the first baseman in being safe. This distraction brought Giulia Desiderio from third base to tie the game.
The rest of the game was a pitching battle between two very good pitchers. Every time, Karsen Ochs went three up and three down for the Gamecocks, Montana responded by going three up and three down. Multiple times in the sixth and seventh inning, South Carolina was in scoring position and only need a hit to win the game. Even with the pressure of losing the game, Fouts never blinked and held the Gamecocks to only one run.
Finally, in the bottom of the 9th inning, Alabama started getting the bats rolling again. First, it was Jenna Johnson who singled, then it was Larissa Preuitt who bunted and got on base. This set Cahalan in the bottom of the ninth with two runners on and 0 outs. Cahalan relaxed and hit a single into left-center field. This single brought Larissa Preuitt to win the game for Alabama.
"It feels amazing especially knowing the team has my back and the defense was doing their job," said Cahalan. "Montana did a great job on the mound and I knew she would get it done for our defense and then it's just amazing how the team responded".
Alabama has no time to rest as they play South Carolina yet again on Friday. That game will be played at Rhoads Stadium at 6 p.m. CST.