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Alabama Softball Wins, but Offense Still Struggles

Crimson Tide gets off to slow start before putting away Chattanooga in first game of Tuscaloosa Regional.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama softball likes to promote the concept of mudita – the act of taking joy in the accomplishment of others.

There hasn’t been much celebration lately.

The Crimson Tide offense has been anemic the last two weeks, scoring 18 runs in its last eight games, and winning just three times in that stretch.

In the Tuscaloosa Regional, No. 6 overall seed Alabama continued its inability to score. Ironically, it was a pitching move that sparked Alabama past Chattanooga 3-0 on Friday at Rhoads Stadium.

Montana Fouts entered the circle for Alex Salter with two runners on base and one out in the fourth inning in a scoreless game. Fouts got the next two outs, which revved up a lethargic crowd and Crimson Tide team.

"If we play 56 games, Montana is going to want the ball 56 times," Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. "She's just a gritty player who wants the ball every time."

The momentum continued when shortstop Bailey Dowling led off the bottom of the fourth with a home run, Alabama’s first hit of the game, to make it 1-0. She swung on a 1-2 pitch that was up in the zone.

"I said earlier if it’s going to be a bad pitch and you are going to swing, I'm going to give it my whole heart," Dowling said of the pitch.

Ally Shipman who got Alabama’s second hit, later scored on a Meagan Bloodworth sac fly. The bad news was Alabama later failed to score with the bases loaded, and settled for two runs.

Despite the win, the offensive struggles are a concern. Alabama hasn’t scored more than four runs in its last 10 games. Chattanooga outhit Alabama 7-4.

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It’s a far cry from where Alabama was a year ago, where it finished the regular season 20-0, including sweeps in the SEC Tournament, regional and super regional, and three straight Women’s College World Series wins (before falling to Florida State in the semifinals).

Murphy said last year that the 2021 run was all about peaking at the right time. The 2022 Crimson Tide is all over the map offensively. Runs are scarce, and timely hitting is almost non-existent.

Alabama did take advantage of a one-out Dowling walk in the fifth. Pinch-runner M’Kay Gidley stole second, advanced on an Ally Shipman single and then scored on a Jenna Lord hit to make it 3-0.

Still, Alabama failed to cash in for more runs, leaving the bases loaded again. Alabama left eight runners on base, the fourth time in 10 games it’s stranded eight or more runners.

"We can't do that," Murphy said. "When you have an opportunity to run-rule somebody, you have to do it. We had the bases loaded twice and had them on the ropes and we didn't score."

Fouts allowed three hits and struck out seven in 3 2/3 innings to earn the win. Salter pitched 3 1/3 in the start and allowed four hits. 

"I didn't want to bring in Montana, but they got runners on first and second, one out, and it's a tight game. I wasn't going to take a chance," Murphy said.

Brooke Parrott took the loss. She gave up two runs on just two hits and held Alabama hitless through three innings.

Shipman had two of Alabama's four hits and a scored a run.

Alabama (42-11) faces the winner of Stanford-Murray State on Saturday at 2 p.m.

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