BATON ROUGE, La. — For six nerve-wracking innings, Alabama freshman pitcher Montana Fouts used every pitch in her arsenal to escape predicament after predicament and make a slender one-run lead stand up against LSU on Friday night.
In the top of the seventh, the Crimson Tide offense decided to give Fouts more of a cushion. Enough cushion, in fact, for the Crimson Tide to float its way to a 7-0 win before a sold-out crowd of 2,495 at Tiger Park.
Alabama posted six runs in the top of the seventh and Fouts finished off the shutout in the bottom of the inning to raise her record to 14-3. The win raised the Crimson Tide to 48-6 overall and 16-6 in the SEC. One more win in the remaining two games of the series clinches the outright SEC title for the Crimson Tide.
Fouts left LSU runners stranded in scoring position in every inning but the second and the fifth, when a double play erased a leadoff double.
“I think at first Montana was a little jittery but our defense was really good behind her,” Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said. “Claire Jenkins (the Alabama shortstop) saved a run with a great catch in the fourth. KB Sides took a home run away from them in right field. I thought our defense was outstanding.”
Bailey Hemphill gave Alabama a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, slamming her 22nd home run off the left-field foul pole.
The floodgates opened for the Crimson Tide in the seventh with a combination of timely hitting and help in the form of two errors, a wild pitch and a passed ball by LSU. Kaylee Tow had a two-run double in the inning, while Hemphill recorded her second RBI on a single.
“You could see in that inning that we were starting to regain our form at the plate,” Murphy said. “The ball that (Tow) hit was the hardest that she has hit the ball in two weeks. Now we just need to carry that over in the next two games.”
Said Fouts, “There is no time for celebrating. We have to clear our minds and come out ready for tomorrow.”
Starting pitcher Shelbi Sunseri (12-6) took the loss for LSU. The Tigers (49-13, 14-8) could still tie Alabama in the standings if it rebounds in the two remaining games of the series, starting with Saturday’s 5 p.m. contest.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.