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Alabama Found Its Ace, And She May Be The Next Jennie Finch

When you hear the name Montana Fouts, you might think the Alabama Crimson Tide junior was related to the great San Diego Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts. Just like Fouts (no relation by the way), she's making her own history while becoming a household name in Tuscaloosa.

Fouts is a rising star for the University of Alabama softball team that finished the 2019 season with a 60-10 record and advanced to the Women's College World Series. Fouts, who blossomed into the ace of this staff, was named SEC Freshman of the Year, First-Team All-SEC, and earned NFCA Second-Team All-American honors in her first season. She was only getting started.

Fouts' 2020 sophomore campaign was cut short thanks to the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 outbreak that canceled the season, but she's back in 2021 to prove she's one of the best in college softball.

Who is Alabama's Montana Fouts?

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Her talent was on display playing in youth softball leagues around the country, which explains why she was so dominant to begin her college softball career.

Alabama coach Patrick Murphy first took notice of the Grayson, Kentucky native early on and received a commitment from her as a freshman in high school. Fouts was a  four-time All-American and three-time Kentucky Gatorade Player of the Year at East Carter High School. The games speak for themselves: Fouts threw 25 no-hitters and 15 perfect games during her prep career.

Once news got out that Murphy and the Crimson Tide landed Fouts, the rest of the college softball world took notice that the Tide may have found the sport's next big thing.

One of Murphy's former colleagues told him that he may have signed the next Jennie Finch, an Olympic gold medalist who's considered maybe the greatest softball player to ever live.

"She's a kid that absolutely is the hardest-working pitcher we've ever had in 23 years," Murphy told ESPNW in 2019. "And she's only been here for six months."

It didn't take long for people to notice how good Fouts is. Despite missing part of the year due to injury, Fouts finished her first season in 2019 with a 21-6 record and logged 193 strikeouts against 57 walks in 181.2 innings. Leaning on a powerful, low-70s fastball and incredible command of curve and drop balls, her 1.39 ERA ranked 15th in the country.

The USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Finalist threw back-to-back complete game shutouts against national powerhouses Arizona and Oklahoma in her final two starts as a true freshman, showing no opponent is too mighty for her.

Those victories not only proved that Fouts was the real deal, but the Tide were, too. Rarely does a player come around as dominant as Fouts, and it certainly seems as if Alabama has found a game-changing ace who could lead the Tide to the program's second national title.

Montana Fouts Leading Alabama in 2021

Fouts is a junior in 2021, and all eyes are on her in Tuscaloosa.

After a shortened season last year in which she won three games, posted a 2.04 ERA and struck out 41 batters in eight starts, Fouts is already dominating in 2021.

Through Alabama's first four games, the Crimson Tide hasn't allowed a single run. Fouts in two starts has given up one hit and struck out 20 hitters through 11 innings. Unsurprisingly, she won SEC Softball Pitcher of the Week following that incredible start to the season.

"The name of the game was pitching today. Montana was great," Murphy said in a release after Alabama's 5-0 win over Louisville.

Considering her coach has compared her to the greats like Finch, pitcher Montana Fouts' name could go down in history as one of the greatest softball players ever, not just in Alabama program history.

"She's going to be one of those kids where if you just say 'Montana,' you're going to know who it is."

In the beginning of the 2021 season, Fouts and the Crimson Tide are ranked the No. 5 team in the country per NCAA rankings.

This post was originally published on January 26, 2020 but was updated to reflect the current season.

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