The University of Kentucky softball team will have to wait for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament after being eliminated from the Southeastern Conference Tournament in the quarterfinal round on Thursday night.
The winner of the tournament receives the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA field of 64, which will be drawn Sunday night.
Former East Carter High School star and 2018 Kentucky Miss Softball Montana Fouts struck out 15 Wildcats as tournament host Alabama beat Kentucky 5-1 in Tuscaloosa. Fouts (20-3) scattered five hits over seven innings and walked only one of the 29 batters she faced.
The Crimson Tide, ranked third in the nation in the most recent coaches’ poll and also the No. 3 seed in the SEC Tournament, scored one run in the first inning, two in the third and two in the fifth to subdue the sixth-seeded and 17th-ranked Wildcats.
Autumn Humes, who pitched a complete-game 3-0 shutout in Kentucky’s opening-round win over Georgia on Wednesday night, started Thursday’s game and gave up three runs on four hits in three innings while striking out three. She fell to 20-7.
Fouts, voted by coaches this week as the SEC’s co-pitcher of the year, worked her way out of several jams. The Wildcats left seven runners on base, all-told.
“She rises to the occasion it seems like all the time,” Alabama Coach Patrick Murphy said afterward. “She just makes the pitches when she needs to. Just a great job again by her.
“And that was a really good hitting team.”
Kentucky (39-13) will find out its NCAA Tournament destination during the Selection Show on Sunday at 9 p.m. on ESPN2. UK was previously announced as one of 20 finalists to host an NCAA regional by the selection committee. Sixteen of those 20 pre-determined sites will be chosen.
Alabama (43-7) moved on to Friday’s SEC Tournament semifinals to face No. 7 seed Tennessee. No. 1 Florida was to take on No. 4 Missouri in the other semifinal. The championship game is set for Saturday.
SEC Tournament results, schedule
At Tuscaloosa, Ala.
All times Eastern
No. 13 seed South Carolina 3, No. 12 Auburn 1
No. 9 Mississippi State 3, No. 8 Mississippi 1
No. 5 LSU 7, No. 13 South Carolina 3
No. 7 Tennessee 3, No. 10 Texas A&M 2
No. 6 Kentucky 3, No. 11 Georgia 0
No. 1 Florida 6, No. 9 Mississippi State 2
No. 4 Missouri 4, No. 5 LSU 1
No. 7 Tennessee 1, No. 2 Arkansas 0
No. 3 Alabama 5, No. 6 Kentucky 1
4 p.m.: No. 1 Florida (41-8) vs. No. 4 Missouri (38-14)
35 minutes after first game: No. 3 Alabama (43-7) vs. No. 7 Tennessee (41-12)
6 p.m.: Championship game
Semifinals and championship on ESPN2.