How Montana Fouts overpowered No. 8 Arkansas to give No. 3 Alabama softball a series win

Brett Greenberg
The Tuscaloosa News

No. 3 Alabama softball (31-5, 11-4 SEC) picked up its fourth SEC series win of 2021, taking two out of three at No. 8 Arkansas (33-5, 13-2 SEC) behind a stellar Montana Fouts performance in the circle. 

On Friday night, the Crimson Tide used a four-run third inning to hand the Razorbacks their first SEC loss, 5-3. Alabama was shut out for the second time this season, 4-0, on Saturday. On Sunday, a Fouts complete game led to a 2-0 win. 

Here are three things we learned:

Small ball, power hitting

In Friday's win, the Crimson Tide used a double and two home runs to score its runs. Bailey Hemphill's two-run home run in the third put her tied for second in program history for all-time home runs with 58 and two away from tying Kelly Kretschman’s record. Savannah Woodard added to the lead with a solo home run in the fourth. 

On Sunday, Alabama used back-to-back singles by Woodard and Abby Doerr, a sacrifice bunt by Maddie Morgan and a pinch-hit hit-by-pitch from Jenna Johnson to score the first run in the second. A Hemphill walk, Kaylee Tow single, a Morgan fielder's choice and wild pitch brought home Kayla Davis for the second run in the seventh.

KB Sides has a 14-game hitting streak. Tow reached base safely all four times Sunday. 

Fouts on fire 

Fouts (13-2, 1.66 ERA) picked up her seventh and eighth wins with 10-plus strikeouts and 13th win overall. She also picked up her ninth and 10th complete games of the season. Fouts struck out 23 Arkansas batters in 14 innings of work. 

In her second start of the weekend on Sunday, Fouts struck out six of the first seven batters, stranded seven runners and allowed only two Razorback runners to reach second base. In the bottom of the first inning, Fouts held Arkansas scoreless despite having the bases loaded with no outs. 

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Alabama shortstop Claire Jenkins applies a tag to Tennessee base runner Kiki Malloy Saturday, March 20, 2021, at Rhoads Stadium. Malloy was ruled safe on the play. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

Finding ways to win

Sunday's rubber match had an NCAA softball championship feel to it. Two top-10 ten ranked teams combined for nine hits and two runs.

Uncharacteristically, the Crimson Tide stole only one base in the series (Sides on Sunday). 

Coach Patrick Murphy went to his bench six times in the series. Four of those were for pinch runners, three of whom scored. The last decision to go to the bench resulted in an insurance run for Fouts and the Crimson Tide.

Alabama right fielder KB Sides makes a catch for an out near the outfield fence as the Tide played Tennessee Saturday, March 20, 2021, at Rhoads Stadium. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

What's next

Alabama will host Alabama State at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Rhoads Stadium. The game will be streamed on SEC Network+.