TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — If there was a letdown, this was the time, but the third-ranked Crimson Tide prevented such thing after a statement-like first inning. Senior pitcher Krystal Goodman helped established its dominance early, refusing to let Hornet hitters get comfortable in the box after allowing a leadoff single to Alabama's State Madison Myers.
That was that, though.
"We had three people tell us that it was going to rain all night, so Rhoads [Stadium] magic happens again," Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said, "Krystal was great. She struck out seven of nine batters and looked really, really good."
Goodman hardly labored prior to handing things over to Alabama's lineup, one eager to lead early and not look back. That's how it unfolded, beginning with centerfielder Alexis Mack's single, ending three runs and four hits later. Keeping with the norm, senior Kaylee Tow drove in two of its three runs. Rapid start for the Crimson Tide; unenjoyable first inning for Hornet starter Vanessa Bradford, especially with two (always costly) errors by Alabama State.
Alabama looked crisp while State looked lost, which is likely how it was supposed to be, but there are no absolutes. That's the key element of experienced teams, though, the standard set regardless of opponent.
And internally, the Crimson Tide must've set quite the standard …
Its three runs in the first inning turned an early statement into nothing more than an introduction to a Bama barrage.
"I thought it was really a great game," Murphy said, "The top of the order was unbelievable. I think they were 7-8 and scored seven runs, I believe. [It was] just a fun night at the ballpark."
Goodman was unphased and undeterred in a dominant start, keeping Hornet bats from creating a stir and allowing Alabama to widen its gap. Freshman KJ Haney, fresh off the bench, delivered a three-run home run in the third inning, her first hit as an Alabama player.
"You memorize that feeling of the ball coming off your bat and, as soon as I hit it, I knew," Haney said, "That's something, in my whole college career, that I'll never forget. It felt amazing and I'm super excited."
The Crimson Tide had five more hits and two more runs in the frame, thanks to senior KB Sides and freshman Kat Grill who delivered timely run-scoring singles.
With Alabama leading 10-0 come time for the fourth inning, Goodman was pulled in favor of pitcher Sarah Cornell. The graduate senior walked the third Alabama State batter she faced, pinch-hitter Aishja Wilcher, who later scored on an RBI-double by junior Taliya Talley to break up the shutout.
Its one run was all, as Cornell escaped some trouble on the bases, increasing the likelihood of an Alabama win by way of run-rule as long as it led by eight after the fifth inning.
Freshman Jaala Torrence replaced Cornell as the fifth, and could-be final inning was underway at Rhoads Stadium. The young right-hander struggled, giving up two walks, then two runs to shut the door on the game ending early, at least until the bottom of the inning.
The good news for Alabama? It got to bat in the bottom of the fifth, when the game went final after a single by sophomore Savannah Woodard scored the game-winning run.
Its offense was just too potent to match.
Goodman moves to 4-0 on the season after getting the win.
Alabama is now 32-5 on the year.