Krystal Goodman recalls yelling “Hotty Toddy” as far back as she can remember.
But when it came time to choose her next college, the former Long Beach Bearcat tossed and turned. Ole Miss, her childhood team, had offered her a few weeks back.
Then came a call from Alabama.
When Goodman’s coach at Chipola College in Florida first told her the Crimson Tide was interested, she couldn’t quite believe it.
Alabama wants me? the Coast native thought.
Even with the softball power interested, Goodman felt destined to end up in Oxford.
Still, she visited Tuscaloosa, Alabama, two weeks ago — mostly to appease her friends and family who told her she owed it to herself to fully investigate all offers. As it turns out, Goodman’s glad she listened.
During a ceremony Wednesday at Chipola, Goodman selected a crimson Alabama hat off of a table and put it on her head; leaving the red Ole Miss hat all alone while applause and cheers filled the room.
“It was really tough deciding between Alabama and Ole Miss and I really didn’t decide until the day before,” Goodman told the Sun Herald on Thursday. “Ole Miss has always been my family school being from Mississippi. I was excited when I got the opportunity to play there and then I went on my visit to Alabama and was like, ‘Whoa, I love it here.’
“I just loved it, and I didn’t expect that at all.”
It was ultimately an agonizing process to finally select Alabama.
“There was a lot of praying involved. We really just sat down and put the schools side by side. My family, friends and everyone said you have to put aside the rivalries and put all the family passion aside, and just compare the schools by the facts,” she said. “It took me every single day since my visit.”
Goodman later added: “I felt way more comfortable (at Alabama) and really the only thing keeping me at Ole Miss was it was the school I wanted to go to since I was little and I’m not little anymore. We had to embrace that.”
Speaking of new realizations, Goodman was asked how shouting “Roll Tide!” is coming along.
“I’m working on it,” she said with a laugh.
As a freshman last year, Goodman was among the nation’s most dominant pitchers at Chipola. The 6-foot-1 right-hander compiled a 25-1 record with two saves and 214 strikeouts in 184 innings. She also boasted a 0.61 ERA.
Goodman was always a dominant pitcher, dating back to her Bearcat days. But she said she has evolved from more of a grip-it-and-rip-it thrower who merely overpowered batters, to a true pitcher.
“Now I know what I’m doing,” Goodman said. “I’m taking charge and know where to put the ball.
“Now you can throw hard, miss your spot by about an inch and they’ll jack it over the fence. I found that out last fall.”
Goodman said she mixes a fastball, riseball, changeup and curveball with velocity from 65-68 mph, occasionally hitting 70.
Goodman’s decision likely surprised many who grew up with her back home. The NLI signature even surprised Alabama coach Patrick Murphy, who Goodman said didn’t learn of the commitment until after the ceremony.
“He said I made his year,” Goodman said.
Back on the Coast, long-time LBHS coach Scott Zink beamed with pride while talking about Goodman. The young right-hander made her varsity debut in the first round of the playoffs — as an eighth-grader.
“She has always been a dominant pitcher since she was, what, 10? She has always been strong,” Zink said. “She was wild, so kids wouldn’t really dig in against her. But then she started to develop her touch.
“I’m super proud of her just because, for starters, Krystal works so hard. I know she puts in the time and effort.”
Zink said the pride goes beyond his high school.
“It’s not just for Long Beach, but South Mississippi as a whole,” he said. “We don’t get a lot of recruiters who come down from the bigger schools, so, with Krystal and (former Harrison Central and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College ace, now at Ole Miss) Kaitlin Lee, maybe this will be the start of something.”