Easton Bama Bash
Teams: Alabama (10-0), Missouri State (6-4), ULM (1-9), Minnesota (4-3)
UA Friday: vs. Missouri State, 3:30 p.m.; vs. Minnesota, 6 p.m.
UA Saturday: vs. Missouri State, 12:30 p.m.; vs. Minnesota, 3 p.m.
UA Sunday: ULM at 1:30 p.m.
Radio: 93.3 FM (Alabma only)
By Justin Smith
Special to The Tuscaloosa News
Alabama freshman softball pitcher Montana Fouts made her college debut against Troy on Feb. 8, but her performance at last week’s Hillenbrand Invitational in Arizona, is what got people talking.
Fouts, from Grayson, Kentucky, pitched two complete games, including a 6-1 win against then No. 9 Arizona, allowed just one run and recorded 20 strikeouts to help the Crimson Tide sweep the weekend tournament.
For her effort she was named SEC Freshman of the Week.
“My mindset is going in and going at every batter,” Fouts said of her aggressive mindset. “I just think I want to strike every batter out or get them out in some type of way, batter by batter.”
She hasn’t allowed a walk in 27 innings and has 33 strikeouts with a 0.26 ERA.
She will try to add to those numbers this weekend as the No. 6 Crimson Tide makes its home debut in the Easton Bama Bash at Rhoads Stadium. On Friday, Alabama faces Missouri State at 3:30 p.m. Minnesota and Louisiana Monroe are also in the tournament.
With Fouts seeing major playing time as a freshman, she will often have to face experienced hitters. Not getting rattled is her focus when she gets into a jam.
“I look at it from the good and the bad,” Fouts said. “Maybe if you faced them earlier in the game and they have a hit, you want to have a short memory and always know that there is the next pitch. You just have to give it your all on the next.”
Other coaches have taken notice of Alabama’s freshman pitcher. Troy’s head coach Beth Mullins expressed her feelings on Fouts to Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy during the Troy Classic.
“She (Mullins) said she had not seen (Fouts) in a while, but she was really impressive,” Murphy said. “She said (Fouts) did not miss many spots and if she is hitting the corner, she is hitting the right side of the corner. She is not throwing it over the plate.”
The Crimson Tide returns three pitchers from last year and added Sarah Cornell from Hofstra College in Hampstead, New York, making Fouts the only freshman pitcher on Alabama’s roster. Murphy said the comradery of the pitcher group rubs off on the entire team.
“All of them are team first,” Murphy said. “There are no prima donna’s among them. I think that everyone likes to play behind them.”
Fouts is expected to lean on the leadership of some of the older players around her this season. Alabama has four seniors, only one a pitcher. The leadership and comradery that some of the Tide’s older players have shown reminds Murphy of a historical major league baseball moment.
“It is kind of like when (Boston Red Sox pitcher) Chris Sale came in during the ninth to win the World Series,” Murphy said. “He is a starter. All he needs is three outs and there are 13 guys in the bullpen giving a standing ovation. That is how our players are.”