It’s pretty safe to say Lexi Kilfoyl is back to form.
On Friday in the first round of the NCAA Regional at Rhoads Stadium, Kilfoyl struck out a career-high 15 batters in the Crimson Tide’s six-inning, 9-0 no-hitter against Alabama State.
“Just a hell of an effort from Kilfoyl. It was just an awesome performance,” Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said. “It was a fun opening night.”
Alabama (46-7) plays Clemson (43-6) at 11 a.m. Saturday in the double-elimination tournament. The Tigers knocked off Troy 8-0. Clemson was the ACC regular-season champ.
"It felt really good to get back out there,” Kilfoyl said. “The fans were amazing and my teammates had my back the whole time.”
She recorded the first 14 outs via strikeout. All but one of her 16 recorded outs were by strikeout.
“I kind of thought about it but I try not to think about that kind of stuff,” she said of the consecutive strikeouts.
Last week Kilfoyl (12-3) returned to the circle for the first time in a month and the performance was less than ideal. In fact it wasn’t very good at all.
Against Tennessee in the SEC Tournament, the Alabama sophomore gave up two runs on two hits with two walks and two wild pitches -- all in just 1/3 of an inning.
She made an adjustment in practice to get ready for this weekend.
"In practice I had been throwing to batters to get a game-like feel,” she said. “We put on the crowd noise...just did everything possible to make it game-like as possible. That prepared me and helped my confidence a little bit.”
On Friday she was almost perfect. Just one Alabama State player reached base, courtesy of a second-inning error.
Krystal Goodman relieved Kilfoyl in the sixth and got the last two outs to secure the no-hitter.
The win is the 14th straight for Alabama. The Crimson Tide’s last loss was to Florida on April 17. Alabama has also won 41 straight regional contests.
Alabama’s offense got rolling in the third, courtesy of Jenna Johnson’s two-run home run that just cleared the leftfield wall. It was her first of the season.
“She does have major pop," Murphy said of Johnson. "That was a really good at-bat. The ball was low and in, and she can really drive that pitch."
Savannah Woodard later knocked in a run on a triple off the rightfield wall for a 4-0 lead. That was all the support Kilfoyl needed, but she got some more in the fourth and sixth thanks to Bailey Hemphill sac fly and a wild pitch to make it 6-0.
After an RBI bunt single by Alexis Mack, Hemphill ended the game with a two-run homer, her 12th of the season and 62nd of her career.
Also for Alabama, Kaylee Tow had an RBI double and Mack had three hits with three runs. Elissa Brown had two hits and two runs.