Arizona softball didn’t face Montana Fouts on Saturday evening, but it didn’t matter. A combination of quiet bats, mistakes in the field, and an inability to keep Alabama off the bases opened the floodgates for the visitors in the third inning. It was more than enough for the Crimson Tide to secure the 11-0 victory.
Arizona pitcher Hanah Bowen started strong, sitting down the Tide in order on 14 pitches. After two, she had struck out four and walked one, giving up no hits. She couldn’t maintain it, though.
Early on, it looked like the Wildcats might get to Alabama pitcher Lexi Kilfoyl. Kilfoyl gave up a single to leadoff Janelle Meoño, then struggled finding the strike zone. The Arizona hitters helped her out a bit by swinging at pitches off the plate, and she got out of the inning unscathed.
Kilfoyl rolled from there. She gave up just two hits and one base on balls in five innings for the win.
“I think what people don’t realize is that Lexi and Montana are great in their own rights,” Arizona head coach Caitlin Lowe said. “I think someone like Lexi, who keeps the ball down and off-speed, especially with this ballpark works, too.”
Alabama finally broke through in the third. Kilfoyl helped her own cause by taking a 2-0 pitch out of the park to deep left field. Two pitches later, third base Ashley Prange hit a ball to shallow center. Meoño slid for the ball and it got by her, getting all the way to the wall. By the time the ball was retrieved, Prange was standing on third base.
Things didn’t improve. Leadoff hitter Jenna Johnson came up and hit one just shy of the centerfield wall. It bounced out of Meoño's glove, hit the wall, then rolled back onto the field. It was scored an RBI triple but looked dangerously like an error. The Tide were up 2-0.
“One I was too shallow and one I was too deep,” Meoño said. “They beat me twice.”
The Wildcats ended with two official errors, but it easily could have been four.
A fielding error by Bowen allowed Kaylee Tow to reach base and Johnson to score. The Wildcats seemed fortunate that Tow did not advance after second base Allie Skaggs threw the ball away on the same play.
It turned out not to matter. Three batters later, Abby Doerr hit the ball out to left field. Tow, Bailey Dowling, and Doerr scored to give the visitors a 6-0 lead. That was the end of Bowen’s night, as she gave way to freshman Madi Elish.
Elish got her first strikeout of the game to start the fourth but followed it up with a home run to Prange. It was a 7-0 Alabama lead and the Wildcats still only had one out on the board. The pattern continued. A second strikeout followed by a second home run put the Crimson Tide in run-rule territory.
An error by shortstop Sophia Carroll put runners on second and third, but Elish was able to get the final out without more damage.
“Defensively, we just have to make plays,” Lowe said. “Janelle doesn’t do that. Sophia doesn’t do that. So, we have to play better defense behind Bow and she knows she’s got to hit her spots.”
Sophomore Jessie Fontes came in for the fifth inning and gave up one more home run. Alabama ended the game with eight hits. Five of those left the yard.
Arizona will try to regroup and get the win against New Mexico tomorrow. The Lobos beat Oregon State on Friday.
“Hopefully there’s a fire within their bellies to get better,” Lowe said. “That’s what losses do for me. And I know that looking at their faces tonight, it’s gonna be what they do for them.”