College softball: Alabama's Montana Fouts blanks UCLA for fifth perfect game in WCWS history

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Alabama pitcher Montana Fouts tried not to think about her history-making night. Her teammates avoided talking about it, too. But as soon as the final out was recorded, Fouts jumped into the arms of teammate Bailey Hemphill and allowed the euphoria of the moment to take hold.

Fouts had just pitched a perfect game on her 21st birthday in a 6-0 win over UCLA in the Women's College World Series on Friday night. It marked the fifth perfect game in WCWS history, and the first since Southern Miss pitcher Courtney Blades did it in 2000 in a 1-0 win over Arizona.

"I honestly wasn't really thinking about it," Fouts said. "I don't think you can think like that as a pitcher, as a player or even in the stands really. I was just locked in each pitch because I know that one swing away they have momentum, they're a great hitting team, great pitching staff, we respect them so much."

Indeed, headed into the seventh inning, Fouts faced the two best hitters in the UCLA lineup to keep her perfect game alive. She struck out Bubba Nickles and Rachel Garcia, who will join the U.S. Olympic team after the WCWS ends. Then Aaliyah Jordan flied out to left field, and the celebration began.

"I think I realized about the fifth inning that she was throwing a perfect game, but we all know the unwritten rule of never saying that they're throwing the perfect game," first baseman Kaylee Tow said. "We were just trying to be calm, cool and collected, make the plays, to keep that for her and allow her to have that moment. So no one wanted to talk about it until the end, but of course we went crazy there at the end for her."

Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said he thought Fouts had thrown a no-hitter. He didn't learn until after the game that she was perfect.

"Just to watch greatness is pretty cool," Murphy said. "All of you were a witness to it. These are, obviously you guys know, these are good teams. I mean, this is the king of the Pac-12, and to throw a perfect game against legendary UCLA is something else for a kid from a small town from northeast Kentucky."

In all, Fouts had 14 strikeouts against UCLA, adding to the 16 strikeouts she had in the WCWS opener on Thursday against Arizona. Fouts has 10 or more strikeouts in 22 games -- including nine straight. Her 344 strikeouts this season are the fourth most in Alabama history.

As Fouts has become more dominant, so has Alabama. The Crimson Tide have won 20 straight games, and beat UCLA for the first time in program history. Now, Alabama needs one more win to make it to the championship round.