Crimson Tide Strive For WCWS Behind Fouts, Tow
TUCSON, Arizona – It was a relaxing Sunday afternoon for Alabama’s leading slugger Kaylee Tow, who spent most of the 13-4 run-rule victory over Illinois-Chicago watching from the dugout at Arizona’s Hillenbrand Stadium.
She had already done her part, walking twice before being subbed out in the second inning of the No. 6 Crimson Tide’s 10th-straight win. It’s the program’s best start since 2013, the year after its lone Women’s College World Series title.
“The pitching has been pretty consistent and the defense has been excellent,” head coach Patrick Murphy said. “The third in softball is getting the key hit, and we’ve been doing that too.”
That run could continue for awhile.
Alabama doesn’t play a ranked team in the top 20 until it travels to No. 15 South Carolina for a three-game series starting April 5, 32 games separated from Saturday’s 6-1 win over then-No. 9 Arizona. The offense flexed its muscles in the Old Pueblo, blasting five home runs from four different players in the weekend’s five games.
But Murphy, in his 21st season at Alabama, has to feel even better about the team’s pitching.
The Crimson Tide held their five opponents to just seven runs over the weekend. That included a gem from freshman Montana Fouts in Alabama’s first win over Arizona in Tucson. She allowed one unearned run on six hits and no walks with eight strikeouts in a complete game.
“She’s the hardest working pitcher we’ve ever had even after just a semester,” Murphy said. “She’s done more on her own than any kid we’ve ever had. She’s earned every bit of her accolades so far.”
Fouts and Tow are, and will forever be, tied together as Murphy’s first two recruits from Kentucky.
He recalled a time when he saw both at a state tournament in Owensboro, KY. The veteran coach called the duo, “the show of the tournament.”
“It was like a proud dad watching their kids,” Murphy said.
Now he gets to see them in practice every day, as the trio attempt to take Alabama back to the WCWS for the first time in three years.
After earning All-SEC and second-team All-America honors as a freshman last season, Tow is now a mainstay at the top of the lineup.
“This year is a whole new year,” Tow said. “Last year is behind us. It’s a clean slate for every player and every player has a chance to make their mark on Alabama softball.”
So far, she’s made the most of her chances, hitting .480. After 35 walks last season, she already 10 free passes in this spring.
“She can take a walk, but she’s also capable of hitting it out,” Murphy said. “That’s what I like about her.”
She’s also been steady at first base, anchoring a defense that has committed just three errors with a .988 fielding percentage. That’s quite an achievement considering Alabama starts a junior, two sophomores and a freshman in its infield, and only has four seniors on its roster.
“We’re excited,” Tow said. “We’ve got 24 hours to enjoy this good weekend and then its onto the next weekend, coming up ahead of us. We’re looking at that now.”
Alabama hosts the Easton Bama Bash, facing Missouri State and No. 23 Minnesota twice Friday and Saturday in Tuscaloosa before finishing the tournament against Louisiana-Monroe Sunday. It then travels to Birmingham to play UAB next Wednesday.