Alabama Softball began it’s 2021 season this weekend, and it went about as well as it could have possibly gone.

The week leading up to the season opener was somewhat chaotic. The softball staff had to work fast Friday to schedule three new opponents when the Texas Classic was canceled due to weather concerns. Regardless, Coach Patrick Murphy and Team 25 seemed laser focused on nothing but playing ball. 

“We said you know what, we are gonna roll with the punches,” Murphy said in his postgame press conference Sunday afternoon. “I think they handled it very well, I don’t think anyone was looking past this, I don’t think anyone was sulking about losing an opportunity to play Texas, Arizona, and Colorado State.”

Against Alabama State, Notre Dame, and a double header against Louisville, The Crimson Tide went 4-0 and flexed their muscle as the No. 8 team in the nation. 

In the hitting game, Alabama was dominant. Alabama run-ruled in two of the four teams, and won the games by a combined score of 29-0. Leading the team was senior left fielder Alexis Mack, who drove in six runs on four hits. Three of those hits  and four of the runs came from her performance against Notre Dame Saturday.

Montana Fouts was the star of the weekend on the mound, recording a combined 20 strikeouts between her starts against Alabama State and Louisville. Fouts’ contributions in addition to Sarah Cornell’s closing performance allowed Alabama to record it’s fifth perfect game in program history. Sophomore Lexi Kilfoyl also recorded 16 total strikeouts against Notre Dame and Louisville.

In case you missed it, here is a recap of every game from Softball’s opening weekend: 

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Alabama 10, Alabama State 0 

Alabama traveled to Montgomery to face off against the Alabama State Hornets in their first action of the season. 

Montana Fouts recorded the first nine of her 20 total strikeouts Friday against the Hornets, leading to Alabama’s fifth perfect game in program history, and the program’s 36th no-hitter ever. 

Alabama State’s pitchers were no match for the Crimson Tide’s batting lineup, as Alabama earned the run-rule finish after five innings of play. In addition to the solid hitting, Elissa Brown tied her single-game base stealing school record with four against the Hornets. 

Several hits, a walk, and a hit-by-pitch walk moved Alabama up to 2-0 to begin the first inning. Only an inning later, Bailey Hemphill did what she does best, and knocked a ball down the left side to bring in two, including an additional run on an error. 

With the score 5-0, the Alabama lineup would add a run in the  third inning, and two runs in the fifth and sixth to run-rule Alabama State 10-0. 

Alabama 10, Notre Dame 0

Alabama posted its second straight run-rule game against the Notre Dame Fighting irish Saturday, thanks to  strong efforts by pitcher Lexi Kilfoyl and the bat of Alexis Mack. 

Kilfoyl threw for six strikeouts as the Alabama defense only allowed Notre Dame two hits in total. Mack contributed four runs on three hits, matching her season best in hits from 2020. 

Heading into the top of the third, both teams were at a stalemate. Alexis Mack would get on base with the first of her three hits, and Bailey Dowling would drive her in with an RBI single. Kaylee Tow would bring Bailey Hemphill in to close out the inning with Alabama up 2-0.

In the fifth, the bats exploded for the Crimson Tide. Mack got back on base and scored on an errant pitch at home to start the scoring. Soon after, Claire Jenkins would hit a double with bases loaded to give Alabama three more runs.

Jenkins would score on a dropped fly ball and Mack would add the last run of the night on a double with a throwing error, letting her score. Before the Fighting Irish knew it, they were down 10-0 to end the fifth and were run-ruled.

Louisville 0, Alabama 5 (first game)

Alabama traveled back to Tuscaloosa to face the Louisville Cardinals, finally competing in Rhoads Stadium for the first time since the university shut down operations due to COVID-19 back in March of 2020. The Crimson Tide’s first win against Louisville marked the 1,100th career win for Murphy.

Fouts started on the mound for the second time this weekend, and was almost unhittable for the Cardinals. The junior pitcher allowed one hit in seven innings, striking out 11 in the process. 

For Alabama’s hitting, the runs came early in this game. Hemphill scored KB Sides on a single and Jenkins scored Hemphill and Mack on another single in the top of the first inning. 

In the third, Jenkins would hit an RBI to bring freshman Bailey Dowling in for one. In the fifth, Sides would double to bring in Brown and make the score 5-0. The bats fell silent after that, but it was of no matter with Fouts on the mound.

Alabama sealed the game 5-0 after seven. 

Louisville 0 , Alabama 4 (second game)

After winning the first game in dominant defensive fashion, Alabama picked up right where they left off. 

With Alabama up 1-0, freshman Bailey Dowling hit her first career home run to drive in two runs and put the Crimson Tide up 3-0.

In the top of the fifth, Alabama’s scoreless weekend was in jeopardy as Louisville loaded the bases. Kilfoyl was able to pitch her way out of it unblemished, and kept Alabama’s shutout streak alive. 

Alabama and Louisville would trade outs until Hemphill drove in a single run, and made the lead 4-0. Kilfoyl’s pitching would prove to be too much to overcome for the Cardinals, as she would close out the day with ten strikeouts and seal the victory for Alabama. 

Alabama returns to the schedule as planned next weekend with the Easton Bama Bash in Rhoads Stadium. The schedule for next weekend is as follows: 

Liberty (double-header) -  Friday, 4:00 p.m. CT

Gardener-Webb (double-header) - Saturday, 2:00 p.m. CT

LSU - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. CT

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