Texas ace pitcher Miranda Elish knows all about Montana Fouts.
Elish saw the Crimson Tide’s ace pitcher, an eighth-grader at the time, when they were part of the same travel ball organization.
When asked Wednesday what kind of advice, if any, she was going to give to her Texas teammates on how to hit against Fouts, Elish was cut off by Longhorns coach Kevin White.
“That’s a leading question,” he said. “Don’t answer that.”
The Longhorns will get plenty of chances to find out for themselves about Fouts this week in the Tuscaloosa Super Regional. Game 1 of the best-of-three series is 8 p.m. Thursday at Rhoads Stadium.
“She’s young but you can’t tell at all,” Elish said of Fouts. “She moves the ball around really well and throws the ball hard. She definitely has a presence on the field.
“I met Montana when she was about in eighth grade. She was really big and threw hard. She was really mature for her age. I knew I was going to see big things out of her wherever she went.”
Fouts was just named a finalist for the Schutt Sports/NFCA Division-I Freshman of the Year, which will be awarded at the Women’s College World Series.
Fouts has already been named SEC Freshman of the Year and she’s a first-team All-SEC selection. Now she’s trying to help the Crimson Tide take down Texas and move on to the WCWS in Oklahoma City, next week.
Last week in the Tuscaloosa Regional, Fouts entered the championship game against Arizona State in the fifth inning and didn’t fare too well. She allowed two runs on four hits with two walks in 1 1/3 inning and the Sun Devils tied the game 8-8.
“It was technical more than anything,” Fouts said. “I was really struggling but my teammates had my back.”
KB Sides had her back the next inning with an RBI single to score Merris Schroder with the go-ahead run. Maddie Morgan had Fouts’ back again in the bottom of the seventh, snagging a line drive down the third-base line for the final out, which also saved a run.
“She was sitting right next to me in the dugout. I didn’t feel like she was nervous. We were talking the whole game,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. “She maybe just missed a couple. Sometimes it just gets away from you. It’s a really big moment against a really good hitting team, too. They weren’t going down without a fight. (Fouts) had to work really, really hard to get people out.”
Fouts enters this week’s super regional with a 17-4 record and a 1.20 ERA with 14 complete games with five shutouts. She has 164 strikeouts over 146 innings, picking up five saves as well.
After struggling a bit last week, Fouts said she’s worked on some things and feels ready for the Longhorns this week. The biggest thing will is, “I just want to get ahead of batters and things like that.”
Fouts, from Grayson, Kentucky, has been on Alabama’s radar for some time, but Alabama has been on her radar, too. She has been a Crimson Tide fan since watching the 2012 WCWS team knock off Oklahoma for the championship.
“I really started watching them in 2012 when they won it,” Fouts said. “I think that was kinda like ‘I really want to be there.’ It’s an honor just coming in here because this is a place where legends are made. Every year we have the best crowds and this is just the best team to play for.”