Florida can't find the magic in SEC Softball Tournament championship, lose to Alabama 4-0

Special to Gatorsports.com

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Top-seeded Florida dug a first-inning hole it couldn't climb out of Saturday night as three seed Alabama won 4-0 for the SEC Softball Tournament championship at Rhoads Stadium.

SEC co-pitcher of the year Montana Fouts (22-3) made sure the Gators (42-9), the regular-season SEC co-champions with Arkansas, couldn't do much as she struck out 11 in the three-hitter. Fouts set an SEC record with 38 strikeouts in the tourney. She would strike out one more to finish the tourney with 39 Ks.

 Alabama (45-7), on a 13-game winning streak, became the first league team with six league tournament titles. It had been tied at five with Florida and LSU.

The Crimson Tide scored three runs in the first inning off starter Elizabeth Hightower (16-5) when UF miscues contributed to the result. The Tide scored on a squeeze bunt and a throwing error later allowed the Tide to take a 3-0 lead.

Previously:Florida rallies again to beat Missouri in SEC tourney semifinal

Familiar faces:Alabama and Florida softball squads have a lot in common

The Tide made it 4-0 after two outs in the sixth inning on a single, walk, wild pitch and Taylor Clark's RBI single.

Florida, which came back twice in two games here and 12 times for the season, managed back-to-back singles by Charla Echols and Kendyl Lindaman in the first, but with two outs, Fouts ended the threat with a strikeout.

The teams will find out their postseason fate on the NCAA Softball Championship Selection Special at 9 p.m. Sunday on ESPN2.

Alabama base runner Jenna Johnson slides safely at home Saturday just out of reach of Florida catcher Emily Wilkie during the SEC Softball Tournament at Rhoads Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Notes: The teams have met in the SEC tourney title game five times, with Florida winning three (2019, 2009, 2008) of the previous four contests. The Tide have won both of their titles against Florida playing in Tuscaloosa (Saturday and in 2012). UF won the season series over Bama 2-1 in Tuscaloosa. ... Standout UF catcher Julia Cottrill stayed home in Gainesville this week because of illness, but is expected to return for the NCAA regional.