Recap | Softball opens NCAA Tournament with 9-0 win 

Robert Cortez, Staff Reporter

No. 3 Alabama (46-7) opened its NCAA Tournament campaign with a 9-0 win against Alabama State (19-28) on Friday, May 21. The victory featured the program’s fifth no-hitter in postseason play, and Crimson Tide toppled the Hornets for the second consecutive NCAA opener. 

Sophomore Lexi Kilfoyl (12-3; 1.62 ERA) started for the first time since April 10 and posted a career-high 15 strikeouts. She struck out the side in four of the five complete innings she pitched. 

A pop-up to graduate student Taylor Clark at shortstop was the only out Kilfoyl recorded that wasn’t a strikeout. Only one Alabama State batter reached base against Kilfoyl due to an error in the second inning.

“I felt really good to get back out there,” Kilfoyl said. “Everyone was motivating me and just reminding me how good I am.”

Senior Krystal Goodman (8-1; 2.84 ERA) relieved Kilfoyl in the top of the sixth inning and recorded the final two outs to secure the no-hitter. Goodman tallied one strikeout. 

For the seventh consecutive game, the Alabama offense scored in the opening frame. Graduate student Bailey Hemphill scored off a double from senior Kaylee Tow. The Crimson Tide offense scored in four innings. 

Sophomore Jenna Johnson added Alabama’s first pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the third when she hit a two-run home run and extended the Crimson Tide’s lead to 3-0. Hemphill matched Johnson’s two-run home run with one of her own in the sixth inning to secure the mercy rule victory. 

Six Alabama batters recorded a hit in the game, and the team finished with 12 hits on the game. Graduate student Alexis Mack led the way with three hits on the night. 

For the freshmen and sophomores, Friday night was their first appearance in the NCAA tournament because last season was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Kilfoyl said the atmosphere inside Rhoads Stadium was something she had never experienced. 

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen Rhoads this packed before, so it was exciting,” Kilfoyl said. “It’s only going to get bigger from here, so I can’t wait.”

Preview: Alabama vs. Clemson

The Tigers solidified an 8-0 mercy rule win against Troy to open regional play. 

Clemson will enter the regional semifinal on Saturday with confidence in its ability to hit the home run ball. Four of the team’s seven hits in the opener were home runs, and freshman Valerie Cagle was responsible for two. 

Cagle (27-5; 1.02 ERA) also recorded the win in the circle. The right-hander pitched four innings, allowed one hit and fanned 10 batters. Cagle threw 83 pitches in the afternoon and will be the probable starter once again. 

Alabama’s probable starter is junior ace Montana Fouts (22-3; 1.55 ERA). She is the reigning Division I Softball Pitcher of the Week after going 3-0 in the SEC tournament and striking out a record 39 batters.

Fouts has shown her ability to shut down offenses that are known for hitting the long ball. In the Crimson Tide’s series against conference leaders, No. 6 Arkansas, Fouts didn’t allow a home run. 

Alabama will face Clemson on May 22 at 11 a.m. CT.