By: MG Sease

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Just two nights after head coach Patrick Murphy’s historic 1,200th career win with Alabama, the Crimson Tide opened the Bama Bash with a 9-2 victory over Kennesaw State and a 6-0 victory over Southeastern Louisiana. Montana Fouts and Ally Shipman played big roles in these wins, to bring No. 7 Alabama up to 9-2 on the season.

Alabama 9 – Kennesaw State 2

First pitch between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Kennesaw State Owls was delayed as Kennesaw State and Indiana State took each other through 10 innings, for Indiana State to walk away with the hard-fought 1-0 win.

Senior left-handed pitcher Lauren Esman made her third start of the season for the Crimson Tide, with freshman utility player Marlie Giles making her third start at catcher, and graduate student Ally Shipman making her ninth start of the season, but her first start at first base this season.

The Crimson Tide defense was consistent throughout its matchup with the Owls, only allowing two runs. The first came at the top of the second inning after a Kennesaw runner just beat the toss to Giles at home plate. The second came at the top of the second off a throwing error by Giles in her last inning behind the plate on the night.

While the Tide’s defense took care of business with little problems, Alabama’s offense struggled to get going. Alabama left runners stranded in the first, second and third innings, and finally tied the game up at the bottom of the fourth inning off a sacrifice fly from Jordan Stephens into right field to drive Kali Heivilin home.

But the bats woke up in a big way at the bottom of the fifth inning for Alabama’s offense. Within the fifth inning alone, Alabama recorded six runs.

Faith Hensley was hit in the head by a pitch and walked to first, followed by a Kenleigh Cahalan base hit. Ashley Prange was walked, bringing up a bases loaded situation for Shipman, who brought all three runners in on a big double.

Murphy was focused on having big performances in key moments. “That’s the main thing we worked on in practice yesterday was continue the inning,” Murphy said.

After the Owls walked Heivilin, Larissa Preuitt brought two home on a huge triple, still with only one out for the Crimson Tide. Stephens ended the fifth ending with another sac-fly to bring Preuitt home.

Alabama entered the sixth inning up 7-2, and Hensley and Cahalan both recorded one more run apiece, with Prange bringing them both in off a single. M’Kay Gidley entered the game as pinch runner after Prange’s single to end the game in the sixth, but Shipman couldn’t keep the ball rolling, and the game entered the seventh. Jaada Torrence – who entered the game in the fifth inning – took care of business at the top of the seventh to put an end to the game.

Alabama 6 – Southeastern Louisiana 2

Similarly to its first game of the night, the Crimson Tide bats started off quiet through the first three innings.

Alabama hung six runs in the fourth inning, with a dose of déjà vu from the first game thrown in. Preuitt and Stephens took advantage of Southeastern Louisiana innings, to then be brough home by a Broadfoot hit up the center and a Johnson sac-fly. Hensley landed on third after this run of play, with Cahalan and Prange walked to bring up Shipman with bases loaded and two outs.

Once again, Shipman delivered. Her second double to bring three runners in on the night.

“That’s my goal,” Shipman said. “Every time I go up there is to do something for my team. Whether that’s get hit by a pitch, get on base any way I can, score those runs; I just want to do it.”

Dowling then singled to bring Shipman home and brought the score up to 6-0 with Alabama strongly in the lead as Montana Fouts came back up from the dugout.

Fouts had a typical Fouts performance, with 9 Kos across five scoreless innings in her 95th start for the Crimson Tide. She gave up a walk, then a homerun for the Lions to bring the score up 6-2.

“I felt like I could have a little more control than I did,” Fouts said. “I was trusting my defense. They were obviously making great plays, so it was easy to do – to trust them – but, we worked through it. It happens.”

“We had two really good innings,” Murphy said. “I’ll take six for the game. That’s a big number. That’s hard to come back from.”

Alabama Softball will take on Indiana State at Rhoads Stadium Sat., Feb. 25 at 11 a.m. CT.