Patrick Murphy’s 2019 Crimson Tide softball team got off to a great start at Troy’s Trojan Classic over the weekend, going 5-0 after sweeping the event and only playing one contest that was truly ever in doubt.
Alabama opened strong by defeating Murray State 12-0 in five innings, followed by host Troy 7-1. The second game marked the collegiate debut of freshman phenom Montana Fouts in the pitching circle. The second-rated high school pitcher in the nation last year went all seven innings, allowing four hits, one earned run, and nine strikeouts without waking a batter. She's the likely Friday/Sunday pitcher once Southeastern Conference play begins.
Of note: Fouts is believed to be the first Crimson Tide pitcher to wear a protective mask while in the circle.
On Saturday, Alabama shut out Maryland in five innings 10-0 before facing Murray State again. The Racers made Bama work for the win as the Tide had to come from behind twice before hanging on, 16-10.
“In college softball, too many people have good kids and if you don’t come ready to play, things like that can happen,” Murphy noted.
Fouts took the circle again Sunday and again shined. The 6-foot-2 USA National Team member needed six innings to complete an 8-0 win. Fouts allowed three hits and again walked no one. She had four strikeouts.
There were other impressive pitching performances for the Crimson Tide. Krystal Goodman, the 2018 junior college pitcher of the year, is already 2-0 and allowed only one run.
The other victory was by Hofstra transfer Sarah Cornell.
All five wins were posted by newcomers.
Returnees Madison Preston and Courtney Gettins both struggled in the Murray State win. Goodman is off to a good start in challenging to be the Saturday starter.
In terms of the defensive lineup and batting order, Kaylee Tow, who was primarily at right field last season, began her sophomore year at first base. She hit .692 for the weekend.
Last year’s backup second baseman, sophomore Maddie Morgan, was at third, with freshman and USA national team member Skylar Wallace at second. Claire Jenkins moved from third to shortstop, and blasted a pair of home runs in the opener.
The outfield had senior Merris Schroder in left, junior Elissa Brown in center and sophomore KB Sides in right. The catcher remains senior Reagan Dykes, while DP duties and backup catching is handled by power hitter Bailey Hemphill. That group did the vast majority of the team's hitting.
The 3-4-5 hitters of Tow, Hemphill and Dykes already have two home runes and 17 RBIs between them. Hemphill alone drove in 11 runs.
“All three of them put in a lot of time on their own in the (batting) cage,” Murphy said.
Next up for the Crimson Tide is another road trip, this time to Tucson, Ariz. in the Hellenbrand Invitational. Alabama is set to face South Florida and New Mexico on Friday, Cal State-Fullerton and host Arizona on Saturday, and Illinois-Chicago on Sunday.