By Justin Smith
Special to The Tuscaloosa News
And then there was one.
No. 5 Alabama softball is the only Division I team to remain unbeaten after a 7-0 win against the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils on Wednesday at Rhoads Stadium.
Unbeaten and top-ranked Florida State lost to Grand Canyon on Wednesday.
Krystal Goodman allowed just one hit through four innings with five strikeouts to get the win. Madison Preston replaced her in the fifth and pitched two shutout innings while while Courtney Gettins closed out the game with a perfect seventh inning. The use of all three pitchers was by design.
“All three pitchers did what we wanted,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. “The goal was to get all three in and it worked out exactly the way we wanted it to.”
Despite having the bases loaded twice in the bottom of the first inning, the Tide scored just one run — off a walk by Alyssa Montes — to take the early 1-0 led. Bailey Hemphill added to the lead with a three-run home run to make it 4-0 in the second. The homer was Hemphill’s ninth of the season.
Hemphill, who went 3-for-3, said her success at the plate was a result of studying the batters before her.
“I learned from everyone that batted in front of me,” Hemphill said. “I knew I had to put the ball in play and try to take it straight up the field or opposite. Lucky enough it went over. I thought it was going to hit the wall. I was happy I went opposite field because I have been struggling with it.”
Alabama made it 5-0 in the fourth on a fielding error by the Delta Devils.
Alabama’s defense continued to be too much for Mississippi Valley State through five innings, but a glimpse of hope showed itself in the top of the fifth for the Delta Devils as they loaded the bases with two outs. Fortunately for the Tide, they escaped the inning with no runs.
Caroline Hardy added to the lead in the bottom of the sixth with a solo home run. Freshman Kayla Davis helped put the last run on the board with the first RBI of her career.
Alabama will host the Missouri Tigers on Friday to begin its SEC slate. Murphy said his team is pumped to begin conference play.
“We call it the second season,” Murphy said. “The first part is over. Now comes the hard and fun part. I think they are excited and ready to go. I am happy we are opening at home.”