By: Nicholas Elliott

CLEARWATER, Fl- Alabama played it’s second game of five in the 2023 TaxAct Clearwater Invitational number two UCLA Bruins. Ashley Prange’s two homer day and Fouts gritty performance in the circle wasn’t enough as the Tide fell 5-3.

The Tide’s offense continued it’s early hitting starting the ballgame with a single from Kenleigh Cahalan followed by a two-run home run to left field by Ashley Prange. Prange continuing her hot start to the season making it 2-0. The Bruins responded shorty after, starting the game with a single from Savannah Pola and a double from Maya Brady. Montana Fouts command struggled early as she walked Megan Grant, then next batter Jordan Woolery hits a grandslam off Fouts making it 4-2 UCLA. Fouts was able to respond well after the rough start striking out the side to end the first.

Ashley Prange showed no signs of slowing down hitting her second homer of the day off UCLA pitcher Megan Faraimo cutting the the deficit to one in the top of the third. Faraimo was able to respond by striking out one to add her total to five thru three innings. The Bruins offense showed no signs of slowing down and continued it’s patient approach by getting a two out single-walk then single from Kennedy Powell who got thrown out trying to stretch out a double, but was able to extend the lead to 5-3 in the bottom of the third.

In the top of the fifth, the Tide were able to get a runner in scoring position after a two out double in the gap from Ally Shipman. Faraimo was able to shutdown any momentum the Tide had by getting out of the inning tallying her eighth strikeout of the ballgame keeping the lead at two runs for the Bruins. Fouts was getting stronger as the game went on as she struck out four in a row, but got pulled from the game and Michigan transfer Lauren Esman entered the ballgame for her to keep the Tide within striking distance.

In the top of the seventh the Tide had a chance to tie or take the lead, but Faraimo had other plans by striking out the side going the distance finishing with 13Ks on six hits allowing three ERs on no walks.

Fouts went 5.2 innings tallying nine-K allowing five ER and two BB on 103 pitches. Esman, who replaced Fouts went 1.1 innings allowing no hits on 18 pitches. Prange went 2/3 with two home runs and Freshman Larissa Preuitt went 2/3 with two singles.

The Tide drop to 3-2 on the season and will play a double header on Saturday against UCF at 1:30 central on ESPN+ and at 5 Central against Indiana on ESPNU.