For Montana Fouts And Co., Alabama's Team 25 Feels Special
Almost every night, Montana Fouts engages in conversations with her roommate and Alabama teammate Alexis Mack. The topic? The ways they can get better on the field.
Fouts, who came into 2020 attached to high expectations after a stellar freshman year, hit some bumps and a bit of a sophomore slump before the season was shut down by COVID-19. In general, Alabama’s start to the 2020 season wasn’t likely what the Crimson Tide had in mind. However, Fouts and her teammates have changed up their mentality for 2021.
“The biggest thing for me is just not comparing freshman year to this year or last year to this year. The circumstances are different and I’m a different person than I was,” Fouts told Softball America in a phone interview. “Last year, we wanted everything so bad. We didn’t have the day-to-day mentality like we do now. As we saw last year, we can’t look at the bigger picture. The difference between our team this year is that we take it inning by inning because we’re not promised tomorrow.”
As a whole, Alabama’s “Team 25” feels special to everyone surrounding the program. The time they spent away from the field definitely brought the Crimson Tide closer together.
“It’s so special how we get closer every day. All the girls on the team enjoy going to and being at practice every single day. We've realized how much we love and need one another,” Fouts said. “Some of my teammates I’ve had for three years now and I’m still learning about them. That’s cool and it’s making us have more fun on the field.”
It’s certainly fun for Alabama to see positive results. In her final 26.1 innings pitched in 2020, Fouts only allowed two earned runs. The slow start in her first three appearances skewed her true performance from last year, but she’s carried on from where her sophomore season ended. Fouts and Sarah Cornell combined for a perfect game in the Tide’s 2021 season opener against Alabama State.
To boot, that deep pitching staff in Tuscaloosa added freshmen Alex Salter and Jaala Torrence. The six-pitcher group has put more emphasis on working off of one another as well.
“With the pitchers that we have now and different types of personalities, it’s really easy to be a part of this staff,” Fouts said. “We all know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s nice because we can ask questions. Even the freshmen have great qualities that we learn from.”
Patrick Murphy and his entire Alabama coaching staff have taken pride in putting their players in a position to succeed in their development as people. Murphy was one of the most outspoken coaches about the attempt to make sure seniors got another chance at a final season. According to Fouts, playing for them is effortless.
“It’s so easy. I’m not going to lie, it’s the easiest thing in the world playing for them,” she said. “They’re so caring and they care about you off the team more than anyone I’ve ever seen before. They know how to make a culture and a family atmosphere. That’s why we enjoy going out there so much...They know who to bring in and look out for you as the person, not just the athlete.”
The talent, experience and mentality is all there for Alabama to make a deep run to and in Oklahoma City this year. Nevertheless, Fouts has one thing she wants to take out of the 2021 season—that softball is simply just a game.
“I want to take out that the game is a game,” she explained. “I love the game more than anything. (Last year) I think I was supposed to go through that. We were supposed to go through that as a team together. I think it made us realize that as a team, as a family, we have to push through together to come out together on the other side. It’s about loving the game, and I think we’re going to focus on loving each and every game.”