Lexi Kilfoyl has perfect night as softball takes the series against Georgia

Ashlee Woods | @ashleemwoods, Sports Editor

It was a perfect night inside Rhoads Stadium.

In the Monday night rubber match at Rhoads Stadium, Alabama softball run ruled the Georgia Bulldogs, 9-0. Alabama improved to 31-5 overall and 8-4 in the conference. 

Junior Lexi Kilfoyl earned the start Monday night after throwing 131 pitches in 7.0 innings Sunday afternoon. The nod from head coach Patrick Murphy turned out to be the right call, as Kilfoyl pitched her first career perfect game. 

Although fans may not have known early on, Kilfoyl had a feeling Monday could be special early in the game. 

“I did, kind of, in the third inning because I let thoughts creep into my head like that,” Kilfoyl said. “But I did everything I could to just keep it out of my head and just attacked [the] batters.”

The junior from Land O’ Lakes, Florida threw 69 pitches in 6.0 innings of work. She struck out 10 batters and gave up no hits, walks or runs. 

Georgia sophomore Madison Kerpics started in the circle for the second time in the series. This time, the Crimson Tide was ready for her. After a strong outing Saturday, Kerpics threw 91 pitches in 4.2 innings of work. She struck four batters and gave up five runs and hits. 

In the top of the second inning, sophomore Bailey Dowling singled to left field, but the Georgia defense stifled the threat immediately off of a double play. Then, freshman Aubrey Barnhart grounded out to first, ending any chance of the Crimson Tide coming away with an early run. 

The Crimson Tide struggled all weekend with runners in scoring position. Alabama got on base, but could not pass the bat down effectively. The team continued to trust themselves throughout the game. 

“We all just communicate with each other,” Dowling said. “We have a little chart in the dugout of what the pitchers throw so [it’s about] just having that knowledge when you get up there and then trusting everybody.” 

The party at Rhoads Stadium got started in the fifth inning. After Kilfoyl retired the side in the top of the fifth, it was time for runners to get across the plate. 

Freshman Megan Bloodworth was hit by a pitch and advanced to first before a bunt single from sophomore Kat Grill put runners on first and second. Then senior Ashley Prange walked, loading the bases for senior Ally Shipman. 

After Saturday’s loss, Shipman said she’d take back her solo blast for a hit with runners on base. Shipman got her wish Monday night as she hit an RBI single to send Dallis Goodnight and Grill home. That gave the Crimson Tide a 2-0 lead with 2 outs in the bottom of the fifth. 

An RBI single from Dowling was enough for Georgia head coach Tony Baldwin to pull Kerpics. Graduate student Lauren Mathis was tasked with getting the third and final out of the inning. 

Mathis was unable to secure the out. She gave up one run, committed a fielding error that advanced graduate student Kaylee Tow and walked Barnhart. Baldwin pulled Mathis after only 12 pitches. 

It was up to the freshman Kylie Macy to get the final out. She did, but not before two more runs crossed the plate. Tow and sophomore M’Kay Gidley scored thanks to an RBI single from junior Jenna Johnson. Macy struck out Bloodworth swinging, but the Georgia Bulldogs found themselves down 6-0.

What seemed like an afterthought was now at the front of everyone’s minds in Rhoads Stadium: the run rule was now in play. Kilfoyl earned three more outs in the top of the sixth, leaving up to the freshman pitcher from Grayson, Georgia, to respond. 

Alabama’s batters gave Macy no chance to answer back. With Grill on first and Goodnight on second, Shipman sent the Bulldogs back to Athens with a three-run blast. The team celebrated at the plate as Shipman sealed the perfect game for Kilfoyl. 

“I climbed up on that fence because I was so excited,” Kilfoyl said. “I knew she would come up with something big tonight, and she definitely did.”

Despite the struggles throughout the series, Murphy was proud of his team’s demeanor and fight throughout the game. 

“Nobody pouted,” Murphy said. “Nobody was having the downer. Nobody gave up.” 

Next up for the Crimson Tide is the rescheduled matchup with Jacksonville State in Albertville, Alabama. The Sand Mountain Showdown will take place Wednesday, April 6, at 6 p.m. CT.