A dominant performance in the circle from No. 1 seed Alabama’s Montana Fouts led the Crimson Tide past second-seeded Clemson in the winner’s bracket game of the Tuscaloosa, Ala., NCAA Tournament regional Saturday afternoon.
Fouts (23-3) tossed a four-hit shutout, striking out a career-high-tying 16 batters and not allowing a walk in Alabama’s 6-0 victory at Rhoads Stadium.
The top-10 matchup between the third-ranked Tide and No. 10 Tigers featured two of the best pitchers in the country with Clemson’s Valerie Cagle (27-6) opposing Fouts in the circle. The ACC Player of the Year was charged with six runs, but only two of them were earned. She yielded eight hits and four walks while striking out three over 5.2 innings.
Clemson (43-7) ran into some bad luck in the third inning when Alabama struck first with two runs crossing home plate on a bases-loaded, bloop single to shallow right field by Bailey Hemphill that followed an infield hit and back-to-back bunt singles to open the frame.
That was all the runs Alabama would need, with Fouts pitching a shutout and posting her fifth straight 11-plus strikeout game. It marked the 12th time in Fout’s last 17 outings that the Grayson, Ky., native has recorded at least 10 strikeouts.
The Tide (47-7) blew what was a tightly contested game open in the sixth inning, tacking on four insurance runs on a two-RBI single by Alexis Mack and a two-run single by Hemphill, who finished with four RBI, to provide the final margin.
McKenzie Clark and Alia Logoleo each went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles for the Tigers off Fouts, who never allowed a runner past second base in 7.0 scoreless frames.
Clemson fell to 1-1 in the NCAA Tournament after beating Troy, 8-0, in five innings Friday. With the loss to Bama, the Tigers will now face the winner of this afternoon’s game between Troy and Alabama State in the Tuscaloosa regional loser bracket’s elimination game at 5 p.m.
–Photo courtesy of Clemson Athletics Communications
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