Alabama softball super regional preview: Crimson Tide will rely on resiliency to defeat Northwestern

Alabama Vs Tennessee – Sec Tournament

Alabama players Montana Fouts and KB Sides yell for their teammate Bailey Hemphill after Hemphill hit a two-run home run to give Alabama a 6-5 lead during the SEC Tournament in Rhoads Stadium Friday, May 14, 2021. [Pool Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Sam Thornton

TUSCALOOSA-No.5 Alabama softball will face No. 12 Northwestern in a best of three, winner take all, super regional series this weekend at Rhoads Stadium in Tuscaloosa. The first game will be played Friday night at 7 p.m.

This is the Crimson Tide’s 12th time hosting a super regional series, where they’ve won 10 of their last 11 at Rhoads Stadium. At this stage in the post season, no victory is guaranteed, and that was present in last weekend’s final regional game where Alabama stoved off elimination defeating Middle Tennessee 1-0.

Alabama will look to continue their momentum against a talented Northwestern team, who were recently crowned BIG 10 tournament champions. Northwestern has a slew of talented players on their roster, highlighted by senior lefty pitcher Danielle Williams. Williams is widely known for her changeup pitch that can be thrown at any stage of the game.

“She probably has the best changeup as a left hander, and you just don’t see that very often,” Alabama softball head coach Patrick Murphy said.

Alabama junior infielder Bailey Dowling says that the team has been using senior pitcher Lauren Esman, a lefty, throughout practice this week to help them prepare for pitches Williams distributes.

As for Alabama’s pitching concerns, the health status of senior ace pitcher Montana Fouts has improved since last weekend’s regional round.

“She’s coming back from Birmingham with our athletic trainer and probably would throw today in the bullpen. She did throw yesterday. As the days have gone along, it’s gotten better and better,” Murphy said.

Fouts is leading the NCAA in strikeouts this season, and finds herself two wins shy of becoming the fourth pitcher in program history with 100 career wins.

Although Murphy noted that Fouts is available to hit the mound this weekend, there has been no confirmation of his plans to play her.

The Alabama pitching staff has a combined 2.00 ERA this season, highlighting their ability to contribute and grow together. Their resilient nature over the course of the year is why Murphy believes they’ve gotten to this stage.

“They always push forward. A growth mindset attitude, they have it,” Murphy said.

The adversity this team’s faced has been present since the beginning of the year. In Alabama’s first game of the season, they fell to unranked Lehigh 7-4 which caused concern among Crimson Tide faithful.

Neither Murphy or the team doubted themselves in that moment, and they certainly responded in a similar fashion when Fouts went down initially with her injury.

“From the beginning we’ve always had ups and downs this season, wins and losses, and so getting through that as a team and always sticking together is what really showed for us,” Dowling said.

Alabama will hope possess that same mindset this weekend with a trip to Oklahoma City on the line where they would advance to their 11th College World Series.

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