Montana Fouts is perhaps the greatest softball player to ever wear an Alabama Crimson Tide uniform, but her career ended without a shot at a national title.
Alabama head softball coach Patrick Murphy waxed philosophical after his team fell to Stanford in last month's Women's College World Series. Amid the tears and emotions felt by him and several of his players during the postgame press conference, Murphy said, "You're playing for something so much bigger than yourself when you play for Alabama."
Murphy was referring to the squad as a whole, but he could have just as easily been talking about Fouts.
Fouts' on-field accomplishments can hardly be ignored. She finished her five-year career as a four-time All-American with 100 wins, nearly 1,200 strikeouts, 35 shutouts and five no-hitters. She even earned 14 saves in relief. The only accomplishment that eluded her grasp was a national championship.
Despite the lack of a national title, Fouts stood out with her loyalty and the sacrifices she made for the team.
Montana Fouts Was The Ultimate Competitor for Alabama
When Alabama needed her to step up during the 2021 SEC Tournament, Fouts pitched every inning. Following Alabama's loss to Stanford in the 2022 Tuscaloosa Regional, six players immediately entered the transfer portal. Fouts was not among them and made it clear she would come back for a fifth and final season with the program where her collegiate career began.
"I believe Jesus has a plan, and has lead me to exactly where I need to be," Fouts posted on social media.
You?ll see me proudly wearing the A next year. I don?t have to think twice about that. Murph- not only are you a hall of fame coach, but you?re a hall of fame man. I?ll die on that hill so Bury me In Dixie, Sweet Home Alabama, Roll Tide and Amen. pic.twitter.com/hrsXxN9i1R
— Montana Fouts (@MontanaFouts) May 24, 2022
However, Fouts' most courageous performance may have come this past season during the seventh inning of the SEC Tournament quarterfinals against Arkansas. Fouts landed wrong after throwing a pitch, hyperextending her knee. The Tide went on to win the game, and Fouts miraculously came back to pitch two weeks later in the Tuscaloosa Super Regional.
Fouts played with a knee brace through the Super Regional and the WCWS. When Murphy offered to take her out of the Stanford game so she could get a well-deserved curtain call, Fouts refused, choosing to stay in and pitch. Even though she gave up a home run that eventually sent UA home, no one blamed Fouts for wanting to do everything she could to help her team win.
"These people are my everything. They really are," Fouts said after the game. "I couldn't have asked for a better place to spend my dream. This has always been my dream."
While her collegiate career officially came to an end after the loss, Fouts received one more opportunity to wear the crimson-and-white uniform. The team is on a 10-day trip to Italy in July to play a couple of doubleheaders with the Italian National Team and do some sightseeing. Twenty student-athletes made the trip, which includes stops in Venice, Ferrara, Bologna and other Italian cities. Fouts was invited to join them.
"Can't wait to experience this," Fouts wrote on Twitter.
YES !!! number million why Murph is the best , can?t wait to experience this?? https://t.co/xIfxYrsMrG
— Montana Fouts (@MontanaFouts) July 7, 2023
Whether softball is in Fouts' future remains to be seen. But there's no doubt she will bring the same tenacity and selflessness to whatever path she chooses.
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