Alabama softball fails to advance to the super regional for time in school history

Brett Greenberg
The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama's softball season came to an abrupt halt Sunday after a 6-0 loss to Stanford in the second elimination game of the day for the Crimson Tide against the Cardinal (39-20).  

The sixth-seeded Crimson Tide stayed alive earlier in the day with a 4-0 win at Rhoads Softball Stadium. It was a quick turnaround for the second game. 

The Crimson Tide finish the season 44-13 and will not advance to the super regional round for the first time in program history. Aside from 2020 (canceled due to COVID-19), coach Patrick Murphy’s program has reached the super regional round every season. Super regional play began in 2005.

"We're definitely going to use this as motivation for sure," said Murphy. "It's just a weird feeling, you go to every super regional in history until this one."

Star pitcher Montana Fouts, making her fifth appearance in as many games, kept the Cardinal bats quiet for the first five innings before allowing back-to-back singles and a double scoring two runs in the sixth inning. Alex Salter relieved Fouts with one out in the seventh. 

Montana (F)outs

"She's our workhorse and I think she likes it," said Alabama catcher Ally Shipman. "She's really gritty and finds ways to win if something isn't going her way."

Fouts (24-8, 2.71  ERA) started or appeared in every game in the three-day tournament (10 consecutive games) totaling 29 1/3 innings pitched. Fouts did not rack up the strikeout numbers accustomed to seeing, but worked out of several big spots and potential game-changing at-bats to keep the Tide in each game.

In two starts Saturday, the right-hander totaled 245 pitches over 13 1/3 innings. Fouts pitched a complete game in the first game Sunday against Stanford, her 20th of the year.

Lexi Kilfoyl did not appear in the regional, but pitched bullpen sessions.

Win over Stanford:Alabama softball shuts out Stanford, forces win-or-go-home NCAA regional final

Win over Chattanooga:Alabama softball storms back to beat Chattanooga to make NCAA regional final vs. Stanford

May 22, 2022; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Coach Ally Habetz points to first base as Alabama catcher Ally Shipman (34) runs to first after slapping a hit to right field during the regional final Sunday at Rhoads Stadium. Alabama defeated Stanford 4-0 to force a deciding second game. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-The Tuscaloosa News

Big hit never came

The Crimson Tide offense struggled mightily in the last three weeks of the season, in fact, Saturday night’s 6-2 win against Chattanooga marked the first time Alabama has scored over four runs since April 22.

The Alabama offense struggled to extend innings despite batting roughly .300 in the lead off spot. With runners in scoring position during the regional, the Crimson Tide was  7-for-28. There were five innings in which Alabama fell in order, three of those came with less than 10 pitches from the Cardina.

Alabama was outhit 11-3 by the Cardinal combined Sunday.

May 22, 2022; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama pitcher Montana Fouts (14) pitches during the regional final Sunday at Rhoads Stadium. Alabama defeated Stanford 4-0 to force a deciding second game. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-The Tuscaloosa News

Calling it a career

“Basically, we are playing for Kaylee Tow, we want to her to have her jersey on two more times today and next weekend,” said Murphy after Saturday’s win. “It is really rare to have a team with just one senior, we’re trying to prevent the players from ending her career.”

The first baseman with over 260 career starts in an Alabama uniform can call it a career for collegiate softball, a heavily decorated one. In five seasons, Tow is a three-time NFCA All-American and two-time All-SEC honoree.

"I don't have any regrets about my career," said Tow. "I gave my whole heart to this program, I can you that. It's more than winning and losing to me."

Tow is headed to Huntsville to work for Regions Bank as a financial analyst. 

May 22, 2022; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama utility player KJ Haney (24) yells from second base after delivering a two run hit during the regional final Sunday at Rhoads Stadium. Alabama defeated Stanford 4-0 to force a deciding second game. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-The Tuscaloosa News

What's next

Alabama's offseason begins with the 2023 roster losing just Tow. Shipman returns with one year of eligibility left while each senior also has an extra year due to COVID.

"We have three really good freshman coming," said Murphy. "It is a small class, but I did not need a lot with just losing one."

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