Kentucky falls to No. 3 Alabama 5-1 in historic night for Crimson Tide


The starters for UK are introduced before the University of Kentucky vs. University of Georgia softball game on Monday, April 12, 2021, at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky. UK lost 5-2. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Barkley Truax

Alabama (43-7) defeated Kentucky (39-12) 5-1 Thursday night, advancing to the SEC Tournament semifinals behind Montana Fouts’ record tying 15 strikeouts.

Fouts tied a record dating back to 2017 set by Alabama pitching legend Alexis Osorio.

The Kentucky native and 2021 SEC co-Pitcher of the Year Fouts (20-3) recorded five strikeouts in the first two innings, including three K’s in the second inning that helped keep the Wildcats off the board early on. She finished with 135 total pitches in a complete game, 15 K’s, one walk, one run and five hits in 27 batters. 

Fouts struck every Wildcat batter out Thursday night, including the nation’s batting average leader in Kowalik (.505) twice. 

The third overall seeded tournament hosts Alabama boasted a 10-game winning streak coming into this quarterfinal matchup; their last loss was on April 17 against Florida. Kentucky had won their last seven including a second round victory over Georgia in the second round of this tournament. 

In their lone series meeting, Kentucky won 2-1 in Lexington back in late March, including a game three walk-off single by Rylea Smith with the bases loaded. Smith would make the start Thursday against the Crimson Tide, going 0-2 at the plate.

Autumn Humes started on the mound once again for Kentucky following her impressive performance against Georgia Wednesday night, recording 10 strikeouts while pitching a complete game shutout. She would pitch three innings, giving up three runs on four hits with three strikeouts; 13 overall in the tournament. 

Kentucky’s bats were hot to begin this with two early hits, leaving runners on the corners in the top of the first. Erin Coffel stepped up to bat and was struck out swinging for out number two, both runners attempted to steal which allowed Kentucky to score; after an Alabama challenge, the runner on second was tagged out and took the Kentucky run off the board. 

It didn’t take long for Alabama to get on the board as the Crimson Tide’s Bailey Hemphill crushed a solo homer to left field all the way into the parking lot, recording her ninth home run of the season. 

Kentucky found their bats again in the top of the third after a double from Miranda Stoddard and a single by Kowalik followed by a Lauren Johnson walk that made the bases loaded. The Wildcats came up empty, however, as Coffel was struck out swinging and Fouts recorded her eighth strikeout of the night.

“I loved [Johnson’s] last at bat. I thought that was awesome to be able to battle to go so many pitches,” head coach Rachel Lawson said during the game. “I thought Kayla [Kowalik] also did a great job with that and Miranda [Stoddard] went deep in the count was still able to barrel up on the ball so we had a lot of hard contact and a lot of good stuff happen so we have to make sure we continue to do that moving forward.”

Jenna Johnson’s two RBI double in the bottom of the third gave the Crimson Tide a three run lead as Humes struggled to live up to her stellar performance less than 24 hours before.

“I think that we’ve probably left a few too many on the plate but this is kind of a crazy environment,” Lawson said. “I’m really happy with what Autumn [Humes] is doing and I feel good about her moving forward.”

Kentucky got on the board in the top of the fourth as Humes singled to right field, advancing to second on a throwing error that brought Renee Abernathy home to cut the Crimson Tide lead to two runs.

Hemphill wasn’t finished with her long balls tonight as she hit a two run homer in the bottom of the fifth, tying an Alabama career home run record with the 60th of her career.

Four walks for Grace Baalman (who came in to relieve Humes in the fourth) in the fifth inning allowed five base runners on board as Stoddard began to warm up in the bullpen. The damage had already been done as the four run deficit was too much for Kentucky to overcome. 

The Wildcats finished with one run on five hits leaving seven runners on base and no errors. They batted .185 (5-27) on the night compared to .333 (7-21) by the Crimson Tide. 

Kentucky’s next appearance will be in the regional tournament next weekend. Date, time, location and opponent are TBD.