Walk-off weekend: Montana Fouts wins all 3 games as Alabama softball sweeps Mississippi State

Brett Greenberg
The Tuscaloosa News

No. 3 Alabama softball picked up its fifth consecutive conference series win and second sweep of the season courtesy of two walk-off victories over Mississippi State.

The Crimson Tide (36-6, 13-5 SEC), winners in 12 of its last 14, remains in second place in the SEC through six weekends with 2-1, 7-6 and 4-0 wins over the Bulldogs (26-17, 7-8 SEC). 

“I can’t thank (the fans) enough because this has got to be the toughest place in America to play as an opponent," said Alabama coach Patrick Murphy. "About 90% of our games here are wins, and it’s mainly because of the fans."

In the finale, Montana Fouts (19-3, 2.11 ERA) picked up her third win of the series along with 11 strikeouts, marking her 40th career appearance with 10-plus strikeouts. Fouts won two starts and also pitched in relief in the second game of the series. Lexi Kilfoyl did not appear due to illness.

Last time out:How one bad inning cost Alabama softball a series sweep at Florida in top-10 matchup

Home field advantage:How Alabama softball has sold out Rhoads Stadium 12 games in 2022 to set attendance records

Here are three things we learned:

Walk-off fashion, never out of the fight

Friday’s win tied the third-biggest comeback in program history and biggest since 2019 as Alabama overcame a five-run deficit. It was the Crimson Tide’s first win this season when trailing after six innings and the second after five.

Alabama scored six unanswered runs, kick-started by Bailey Dowling’s fourth home run in as many games. Freshman Jenna Lord ripped her first career home run to cut the deficit to two runs. In the top of the seventh, Ally Shipman blasted her eighth home run of the year to make it 6-5. Dowling and Kaylee Tow both walked, followed by a Lord single to load the bases. Freshman Megan Bloodworth hit a two-run double to complete the comeback.   

"Knowing that our team battled back after being down six runs just helps us down the road and reminds us that we’ve been in moments like this and can do it," said Bloodworth.

On Thursday, two singles (by Dowling and Tow) and a wild pitch paved way to Savannah Woodard’s winning run.

Kilfoy's perfect game:Alabama softball's Lexi Kilfoyl throws perfect game to close out series win over Georgia

Alabama softball players KJ Haney (No. 24), Alex Salter (No. 27) and their teammates cheer on Taco and Hot Sauce at the finish line at Rhoads Stadium on Thursday, April 14, 2022.

Power surge, getting on base 

Alabama’s four home runs Friday were the second-most in a game this year (five against Arizona). The Crimson Tide has hit 43 this season, surpassing the 2021 season total of 41.

Ashley Prange, who ranks in the top five for hits in the conference, has reached base safely in 18 games; Dowling has 14.

Alabama struck out nine times in 21 innings and has struck out just 69 times in conference play. The Crimson Tide has the second-most plate appearances along with the second-fewest strikeouts. Alabama batters have reached base via walk 60 times during conference play, second-most in the SEC. 

More on Montana:How ace Montana Fouts is managing increased workload for Alabama softball in 2022

Alabama base runner Bailey Dowling is forced out at second by Mississippi State infielder Madisyn Kennedy at Rhoads Stadium Thursday, April 14, 2022. Gary Cosby Jr./Tuscaloosa News

Owning the SEC

Alabama has the most runs scored, most hits and RBIs through 18 games played. The Crimson Tide has a player ranked in the top five in the conference for hits and RBIs.  Prange leads the SEC in triples (2) and Dowling leads for home runs (6) and total bases (39) in league play.

Fouts has the most strikeouts in the conference and the Crimson Tide staff has the fourth-best ERA. The Alabama staff has struck out the most batters while holding opponents to the lowest team batting average in the SEC.

More on the transfer catcher:Five things to know about Alabama softball’s offensive leader, Vols transfer Ally Shipman

What's next

Alabama hosts North Alabama on Tuesday at 3:45 p.m. in the first game of a doubleheader, followed by a matchup against Alcorn State roughly 45 minutes following the UNA game. 

The Crimson Tide travels to Texas A&M for a three-game series against the Aggies beginning Friday at 6 p.m.. Saturday's game will be played at 6 p.m. on SEC Network. Sunday's game begins at noon. 

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Reach Brett Greenberg at bgreenberg@gannett.com or follow @74talk on Twitter.