Fouts Throws Perfect Game: Alabama Advances in Winner’s Bracket
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Crimson Tide was 0-10 all-time against the Bruins but Friday night, on the biggest stage in college softball, the team broke its losing streak.
After shutting out the reigning national champions, UCLA, 6-0 Alabama will head to Semifinal Sunday.
Montana Fouts held her own in the circle, throwing the first perfect game in the Women’s College World Series since 2000.
“I didn't think she would get better from yesterday,” head coach Patrick Murphy said. “But she did. To throw a perfect game against legendary UCLA is something else for a kid from a small town from northeast Kentucky. So it’s just an unbelievable feeling.”
The Grayson, Ky., native went to work at the very beginning of the first inning. Fouts faced leadoff batter and Olympian, Bubba Nickles, and forced her to groundout. Six pitches later, she recorded her first strikeout of the night against Rachel Garcia, the starting pitcher, and the other Olympian on UCLA's team.
"I was just locked in each pitch," Fouts said. "Because I know that one swing away they have momentum, they're a great hitting team, great pitching staff, we respect them so much."
She threw 31 pitches and struck out five batters in two innings compared to Garcia’s 31 pitches and a single strikeout in one.
With fire in her eyes, Fouts tossed a total of 14 strikeouts and had at least one in every inning.
“It's the confidence that she brings and the refusal to lose,” Kaylee Tow said about Fouts reaching a new level of competitiveness. “You can see it in her eyes that she's not going to lose.”
The Alabama offense put runs up on the board for Fouts early in the first inning. As the designated visiting team the Crimson Tide hit first.
Leadoff batter Alexis Mack got things started quickly for her team by reaching first on a single to third base.
On a nine-pitch at-bat Bailey Hemphill hit a double to send Mack home.
With one out in the inning, one of Murphy's offensive ‘unsung’ heroes, Jenna Johnson, hit a single that sent Hemphill across the plate to put the Crimson Tide up 2-0 in the first.
"You definitely get more comfortable," Fouts said about pitching in the circle with a lead. "But I just know that Murph says all the time again, 'If they don't score, we win.' But at the same time we do have to score."
Alabama’s offense was quiet for three innings until Kaylee Tow came up big offensively for the Crimson Tide in the fifth.
With one out Mack singled to first base. Hemphill followed her with a walk, this put two on the base path for Tow.
On a 2-1 count, she sent the next pitch over the center field wall for a three-run home run.
“My dad was talking to me yesterday and he was, like, ‘You know she's going to give you one over the plate, so if she does, hit it over the center field wall,” Tow said. “And of course I didn't think I was going to hit it over the center field wall, but I was just looking for something really sweet and just trying to hit it hard.”
Savannah Woodard reached base for the Crimson Tide in the sixth inning. Maddie Morgan singled down the first base line to push Woodard to second base. A sac-bunt by Taylor Clark moved her teammates up 60 feet closer to home plate.
Elissa Brown hit a ball to first base and was tagged out while Woodard snuck around the catcher to touch home plate. Woodard scored the final run of the game for Alabama.
“I was pleased up and down the lineup,” Murphy said about his offense. “I thought we did a really good job against obviously one of the best players in the country.”
Alabama earns an off day with the win. The Crimson Tide could potentially face Arizona, Florida State or Oklahoma State. The Crimson Tide will resume play at 3:30 p.m. CT on Sunday, June 6.