Alabama Softball Shuts Out Florida to Win SEC Tournament at Home
The Alabama Crimson Tide are the 2021 SEC Softball Tournament Champions. After a crazy first inning that put Alabama up 3-0, the team held Florida to a shutout. Alabama beat the Gators 4-0 on its home turf to win the title.
“Winning the tournament at home just means everything,” starting pitcher Montana Fouts said.
Before the game even started, the fans at Rhoads Stadium were getting riled up, thanks to the help of superfan Emily Clifford Pitek.
“She’s just unbelievable,” head coach Patrick Murphy said. “And she gets people riled up like nobody else.”
The fans are a part of the team’s performance, there’s a reason that the banner out in centerfield reads “The Greatest Fans of College Softball.”
“The family atmosphere that we’ve created and the best fans in the country, help us accomplish anything,” Fouts said.
At the start of the game, leadoff batter, Alexis Mack, came out swinging at the first pitch. She hit a single up the middle to get her team started.
Bailey Hemphill was hit by a pitch to put two on for Kaylee Tow. Tow grounded out but pushed Hemphill and Mack to second and third.
On a 2-1 count, Jenna Johnson hit an RBI-single as Mack crossed the plate to score the first run for Alabama.
KB Sides reached base on a fielder’s choice to third base. Florida’s third baseman tried to throw but missed, Hemphill scored.
With heads base running, Johnson rounded second to put her 60 feet closer to home plate.
Sides baited the Florida players to throw her out as Johnson slid into home to give Alabama a 3-0 lead.
Fouts, the tournament MVP, stood strong in the circle.
She gave up three hits, one walk and pitched 11 strikeouts.
The right-handed pitcher set a new record for the most strikeouts recorded in SEC Softball Tournament history at 38 by Britni Sneed in 2002.
Then in just three pitches she made it 39.
Fouts has broken and tied records all season but she has personal goals as well.
Murphy said that her goal since August was to throw 70 more consistently.
“She wanted to not only throw 70, but she wanted to throw 70 from inning one to inning seven,” Murphy said. “And she wanted to dominate for seven innings. Not four, not five, not six but seven.”
Throughout the tournament she was able to do that.
“She took it upon herself to learn from other pitchers. She picks their brains to see how you stay in shape. And so Montana is using that knowledge and information,” Murphy said. “I think she can get better.”
The Crimson Tide notched one insurance run thanks to Taylor Clark's single in the sixth inning. Clark brought in KB Sides off Florida relief pitcher Katie Chronister, but thanks to Fouts in the circle for Alabama the extra run was not needed.
The Crimson Tide have automatically clinched a spot in the NCAA Women’s College Softball Tournament with its tournament win.
The participating teams and 16 predetermined sites for regionals/super regionals will be revealed during the selection show on Sunday, May 16, at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
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