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Montana Fouts Leaves Legacy of Loyalty, Leadership, Love

While her Crimson Tide career came to a close, what the Alabama ace accomplished on and off the field will always be remembered.

OKLAHOMA CITY — On the biggest stage the sport provides, Patrick Murphy was ready to give Montana Fouts a moment fitting for a queen. 

There's no question all 13,000 fans at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium would have risen to their feet and given the Alabama pitcher a rousing ovation for the final installment of her legendary college career. 

Unsurprisingly, Fouts decided to stay in the game, shaking off the opportunity at a well-deserved curtain call. That's just not her style and never has been. It didn't matter that she gave up a home run on the next pitch that all but sealed the Alabama loss to Stanford. She wanted every last moment on the field with her teammates, camo knee brace and all. 

"I wouldn't change a thing," Fouts said. "I would take any second to be out there. Home run or not, I love playing softball. I wouldn't change a thing. I think Murph knew that before he ran out there, that I wasn't coming out of the game. I would never take a pitch off from playing a game with these girls.”

As her Crimson Tide career came to a close with the 2-0 loss to Stanford in Oklahoma City, it was a moment that encapsulated her five years at Alabama. 

Time and time again, Fouts gave her all, literally, for the team and program. Look back at the 2021 SEC Tournament title run, where she pitched every inning. But there's not greater example than what she went through the last few weeks for Alabama to even get back to the Women's College World series for the third time in her career. 

When Fouts landed wrong on a pitch in the seventh inning of the SEC Tournament quarterfinals, it was evident there was something wrong with her leg. Yet, she still tried to stay in the game and throw. Her next warmup pitch revealed excruciating pain. 

In the immediate aftermath of a possible career-ending injury, Fouts was seen still directing her team. Instead of pouting and hiding, which would have been completely understandable, she took the time to share instruction and wisdom with her teammates before exiting the field. She stayed in the dugout for the rest of the game to cheer on her team to the eventual victory.

It comes as no surprise to anyone that knows Fouts that she did everything in her power to get in a position to be able to pitch again. 

With the help of team doctors, trainers and the power of prayer, Fouts made it back to the circle for the Tuscaloosa Super Regional, two weeks after hyperextending her knee. 

"She has the most competitive spirit I've seen in a pitcher that wears the 'A,'" Murphy said. "I mean, she's come through time and time again."

She made her final appearance Saturday night at the Women's College World Series– the place where she had an iconic moment that launched her into further stardom. Fouts was already popular among softball fans, but when she threw a perfect game on her 21st birthday in the 2021 Women's College World Series against UCLA, it solidified her celebrity status. 

From that June night in 2021 on, Fouts has embraced being the face of college softball, all while maintaining the humility of a bench warmer and loyalty to the Alabama program and particularly her head coach that first started recruiting her over a decade ago. 

When multiple players entered the transfer portal after the conclusion of the 2022 season, Fouts made it abundantly clear that she would be returning to Alabama for a fifth season with the below tweet. 

No player has left a bigger footprint on the sport at Alabama. Her impact is evident by the number of social media posts in thanks and awe after the game. Everyone from NCAA Softball to SEC Network to softball legends Cat Osterman and Monica Abbott made posts about Fouts. The respect was clear from Stanford head coach Jessica Allister.

"I don't know that you can say enough about Montana Fouts," Allister said. "I have all the respect in the world for her competitiveness on the field, for her grace off the field... She is a wonderful thing for our game. I have absolutely nothing but respect for that woman.”

Despite never winning a national championship she leaves a legacy beyond the field, and did accomplish quite a lot on it as well. Earlier this week, she joined the exclusive club of four-time All-Americans. The ace won SEC Pitcher of the Year, NFCA Pitcher of the Year and SEC Freshman of the Year. Fouts helped lead Alabama to the 2019 regular season SEC championship and 2021 SEC tournament championship. She finished her career with 100 wins and nearly 1,200 strikeouts. 

"I didn't start playing the game of softball just to win a national championship," she said. "I started playing because I love it. I love the game. I love the struggle that it brings me sometimes. I love, like Murph has taught me, to be an overcomer. I love that. I love that about our team. I love the memories. I love my teammates. I love that it's brought me a family. That would have been great, but I've won in life.”

Her love for her teammates, the coaches, the fans, the sports and God have all been huge markers in Fouts' legacy. Bringing up her faith in interviews or press conferences was a common occurrence. It wasn't uncommon to see dozens of girls lined up along the railing after a game waiting and hoping to just get a glimpse of Fouts. But often, they got just more. She was often gracious with her time, stopping to sign autograph after autograph or pose for hundreds of pictures. 

In an athletic year where Alabama fans were treated to three of the best individual athletes relative to their sports in Bryce Young with football, Brandon Miller with basketball and Fouts with softball, Fouts is the one who has been here the longest. All three contributed to Alabama in significant ways, racking up individual and team accolades, but Fouts put her heart and soul into the program for the past five years. 

She committed to Alabama as a young teenager and stuck with that commitment for over 10 years, leaving the University of Alabama as a two-time graduate. 

"I couldn't have asked for a better place to spend my dream," she said. "This has always been my dream. I will have these people for the rest of my life. I don't even have the words. I don't know if I ever will."

The University of Alabama is where legends are made, and Fouts is up there with the best of them. 

Even though Fouts is super proud of the home where she grew up in Kentucky and West Virginia, as evidenced by her walkup song, throughout her five years in Tuscaloosa, she found a new one that will always love her as much as she loved it.

"I don't know if I'll ever have the words for what this place, Murph, and the coaches, and these teammates mean to me– I have a home.”