Locked in as the No. 5 seed in the 2023 NCAA softball tournament, it's been a rough stretch for the Alabama Crimson Tide lately.
The Tide lost their star starting pitcher, Montana Fouts, to a knee injury against Arkansas in the SEC Tournament. The Tide also faced elimination against Middle Tennessee but squeaked out a 1-0 victory.
In that 1-0 victory, Jaala Torrence was dominant. Including pitching a shutout, Torrence allowed just five hits. Apparently, if Torrence wasn't so dominant, there was a chance Fouts would've been used in the game. Despite the dominance, this game was won 1-0 — so where did the lone run come from?
Alabama Patrick Murphy said it was a "possibility" to use Montana Fouts today but opted not to because Jaala Torrence was "dominating" against MTSU.
— James Benedetto (@james_benedetto) May 21, 2023
In the top of the seventh inning, catcher Ally Shipman hit a solo home run to send the Tide to their sixth super regional under the tutelage of coach Patrick Murphy.
Shipman's homer was an absolute no-doubter to left field. The crowd and team exploded after the clutch hit.
"We got really lucky with her," Murphy said about Shipman, who started her career with the Tennessee Volunteers. "She's a great girl, player, student and everyone loves her. Credit to her for coming in [and] mixing in so well."
ALLY. FREAKIN. SHIPMAN.@ally_shipman
— Alabama Softball (@AlabamaSB) May 21, 2023
That, my friends, is the definition of clutch.
After this, heading into the bottom of the seventh, Fouts — looking on from the bullpen — screamed with joy and threw her glove to the ground. She knew the Tide were headed to the super regional.
Montana Fouts' reaction as Alabama secured the final out to win the Tuscaloosa Regional pic.twitter.com/5wHzDhIkYT
— Tony Tsoukalas (@Tony_Tsoukalas) May 21, 2023
Fouts' career couldn't have ended like that — not without her in the circle. And now, with the help of her teammate, she'll have a chance to take the ball in Super Regional play.
Through 36 games, Shipman is batting .347 with eight home runs and 45 RBIs. Fouts posted 311 strikeouts during the regular season and an ERA of 1.44.
The Tide will now take on No. 12 Northwestern. The Super Regional round kicks off on Friday, May 26 in Tuscaloosa. Buckle up.
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