The Alabama Crimson Tide softball team completed a series sweep of the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Rhoads Stadium on Saturday with a 4-0 victory. Montana Fouts got the start in the circle and earned her 40th career game with 10 or more strikeouts and pitched her 13th complete game of the season. The Tide is now 36-6 on the season and 13-5 in Southeastern Conference play.

The game was defined by stout defense by each team until the bottom of the fifth. Up until that point, the only score had come on a throwing error by the Bulldogs’ catcher, Mia Davidson. Kat Grill bunted to lead off the bottom of the third, and Davidson sent the ball past first base all the way to the back corner of right field. By the time the ball reached her glove again, Grill had rounded all four bases for the first score of the game.

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“I was really just trying to get on base and then I saw the ball go down the field, so I started running,” Grill said after the game. “Murph said ‘hurry up’ as I was rounding third, so I was like ‘okay I’m gonna get in there.’”

Both defenses continued to play strong until the Tide bats heated up in the bottom of the fifth inning. Jenna Johnson and Grill got on base without an out to start things off and then both advanced a base on a wild pitch while Ashley Prange was at the plate. Prange walked to load the bases. At that point there were still no outs, and coach Patrick Murphy decided to have freshman Aubrey Barnhart pinch hit for Dallis Goodnight.

“Murphy has a crystal ball for putting people in and he always comes out on top with pinch hitters,” Barnhart said of her coach’s call.

True to Murphy’s reputation, Barnhart came through with a double that drove two runs home to make the score 3-0 in favor of the Crimson Tide. Bailey Dowling wrapped up the scoring for the evening one at bat later by bringing Prange home on a ground out.

For Fouts, the series marked an opportunity to right the ship after an uncharacteristically up and down stretch of games recently. She did just that. In both the Thursday and Saturday games of the series, she retired all of the Bulldog batters on 100 pitches with 11 strikeouts and just three hits.

“I think she really respected the heck out of that lineup,” Murphy said of her performance. “Nobody really hit her hard and that’s a very good hitting team, so give her a lot of credit.”

With the sweep and Arkansas’s loss to Kentucky, Alabama moves back into first place in the SEC. The team will face both the University of North Alabama and Alcorn State on Tuesday at Rhoads before resuming SEC play with a road series against Texas A&M this weekend.

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