No. 3 Tide handle No. 8 Razorbacks
NO. 3 ALABAMA 2,
NO. 8 ARKANSAS 0
FAYETTEVILLE — No. 8 Arkansas missed out on a golden scoring opportunity in the bottom of the first inning Sunday afternoon, and Montana Fouts made sure it didn’t get many more.
The 6-1 junior worked out of a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam and tossed a three-hitter to lead No. 3 Alabama to a 2-0 win over the University of Arkansas in Bogle Park.
Alabama (31-5, 11-4 SEC) took two of three from the Razorbacks (33-5, 13-2) over the weekend in the battle of top-10 teams and tightened the race at the top of the SEC. The Razorbacks are still on top, but Florida, which did not play a conference series over the weekend, is next at 10-2 followed by the Crimson Tide.
Arkansas Coach Courtney Deifel said the Razorbacks weren’t able to come up with timely hits as often this weekend.
“I think we stretched the zone a little bit,” Deifel said. “Fouts made us do that, so you give her credit for that for getting us outside of ourselves a little bit and stretching the zone. Even more so when we had opportunities.”
Fouts (13-2) picked up her second complete-game victory of the weekend Sunday. She struck out 11, but walked six. Arkansas couldn’t make her pay for the free passes.
Alabama took advantage of Arkansas miscues to score the only runs of the game. The Crimson Tide broke a 0-0 tie when Arkansas starter Autumn Storms (6-1) hit pinch-hitter Jenna Johnson with a pitch with the bases loaded in the top of the second inning to force in a run.
Alabama scored its other run on a two-out passed ball in the top of the seventh.
Storms, who tossed a shutout Saturday, allowed 2 runs (1 earned) on 7 hits in 62/3 innings. She struck out two and walked three.
Deifel said she likes where Arkansas is right now, despite losing two of three to Alabama.
“If Alabama’s the thirdranked team in the country, then, shoot, I like that we went toe-to-toe with them for three games and we got one. We were a hit away in the other two from winning it. I think our team is p ***** to be completely honest. They’re mad and I think they look at this weekend knowing there’s not a big difference. I think if anyone was watching, I don’t know that you would necessarily think they were the three and we were the eight or if they were the eight and we were the three. I think we were really even.”
Deifel said the Razorbacks had some good at-bats early, so the 1-0 early deficit didn’t bother her. But Fouts got better as the game wore on.
“I liked what we were doing, and then she settled in, and we started stretching and I think the momentum shifted and we never really grabbed it back,” Deifel said.
Arkansas loaded the bases in the first on Hannah Gammill’s double, followed by walks to Hannah McEwen and Braxton Burnside. Fouts struck out Danielle Gibson and Linnie Malkin, then got Kayla Green on a pop-up to the second baseman.
The Razorbacks didn’t get a runner past second base the rest of the day. Fouts struck out Burnside leading off the top of the third, but the fifthyear senior, who ranks second in the country in home runs, walked twice and singled up the middle in the fifth.
Burnside said the team won’t dwell on the weekend but will look forward to the three remaining SEC series.
“This doesn’t define our season by any means,” Burnside said. “I mean we have two losses in SEC play. It was a big series and we would have loved to come out on top with two wins. We need to make sure we’re staying within our self and not making the moment too big and not stretching the strike zone. I think that was something we struggled with mainly Friday and Sunday. Just stretching our zone a little too much … we just need to make sure we’re staying within our approach and just trusting our eyes and trusting our swing.”
Arkansas will be on the road at No. 22 Georgia for a three-game series beginning at 5 p.m. Central on Friday.
“If Alabama’s the third-ranked team in the country, then, shoot, I like that we went toe-to-toe with them for three games and we got one. We were a hit away in the other two from winning it.”
Arkansas Coach Courtney Deifel