Merris Schroder may have found a home in the No. 9 spot.
The Alabama left fielder blasted a two-run home run off Longhorn ace Miranda Elish to carry the Crimson Tide to a 3-0 victory in the first game of the Tuscaloosa Super Regional at Rhoads Stadium. It’s the first shutout for Alabama in a super regional since a 2-0 win against Oklahoma in 2015.
Game 2 of the best-of-three series is Friday at 8 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN.
It was Schroder’s solo home run last week against Arizona State that sparked a Crimson Tide rally in the regional title game, also from the No. 9 spot. “By the time it gets around to me I’ve see a lot of at-bats and I get a better idea of what they are going to throw me.”
“I like the number nine hole, I get to see a lot of at-bats in front of me, especially with all the lefties we have in the lineup,” Schroder said. “
Game 1 was billed as a pitcher’s duel with Texas calling on Elish and Alabama going with Montana Fouts.
It started out that way as neither team could break through in the first two innings. Elish’s first hit allowed was the two-run shot from Schroder to break the scoreless tie.
Alabama’s Fouts was on point, allowing no runs on three hits with five strikeouts for the complete-game victory. Her only trouble came in the fourth inning with runners on first and second with one out. She got the next two batters to end the threat.
“I felt pretty confident out there,” Fouts said. “Reagan (Dykes) made me feel pretty loose out there.”
It was a stark contrast from Fouts’ previous postseason appearance. The freshman allowed two runs on four hits in 1 1/3 innings of work against Arizona State last week, failing to protect a Crimson Tide lead.
On Thursday, Fouts allowed just four base runners and no Longhorn advanced past second base.
“It was a different Montana Fouts from what you saw Sunday,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. “I knew that was going to happen. Her dad texted me during the week and said there is always that one iffy game that somebody pulls through and I hope (Sunday) was it. With no walks and five Ks against a good team, just a much better performance from her.”
Alabama pushed a run across in the fourth with a little strategy. Claire Jenkins squared to bunt and Longhorn third baseman Shannon Rhodes charged toward home. Skylar Wallace stole third base with ease and came home after Longhorn catcher Mary Iakopo’s throw went into left field with no one covering third.
It was the second time Iakopo threw to an uncovered base for an error.
“She’s so fast,” Murphy said of Wallace. “She’s one of those green-light girls, has a lot of good instincts. You look up and she’s right beside you.”
Alabama vs. Texas
Game 1: Alabama 3, Texas 0
Game 2: Friday 8 p.m.
Game 3: Saturday 1 p.m. (if necessary)
Where: Rhoads Stadium
Records: Alabama 56-7, Texas 45-16
Radio: 93.3 FM