The SEC Tournament likes to claim that every game is important, and this year it may be more true than ever.
With 11 of the 12 teams in the field ranked in the Top 25 of a major national poll, and the other receiving votes, every win could be crucial toward the seeding for the upcoming NCAA Tournament — especially for those in the mix to host one of the 16 regionals.
That includes Alabama (32-17, 12-12 SEC), which moved up in the latest polls after closing the regular season with a home sweep of then-No. 9 Texas A&M, and its first-round opponent, Auburn.
The Crimson Tide jumped five spots in the USA Today/NFCA poll to No. 13, their highest ranking since March 15, and up two spots in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll to No. 15.
For the NCAA RPI, which is used in the seedings, Alabama is up to No. 15.
Auburn (40-14, 11-12 SEC) is No. 17. The Tigers are No. 15 and 17 in the polls.
It’s that tight.
Seven SEC teams are between No. 11 and 20 in RPI, with Florida, Tennessee, LSU and Georgia all in the top 10 and trying to lock up top-8 spots that will keep them on target for hosting a Super Regional should they advance.
- When: The single-elimination tournament starts Wednesday at noon ET. Alabama will play the last game of the day as long as it keeps winning — 7:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday and Thursday, 5:30 p.m. ET on Friday and the championship game is scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday.
- Where: Mizzou Softball Stadium, Columbia, Mo.
- Weather forecast: There is nothing more than a 20 percent chance of rain for the duration of the tournament, according to The Weather Channel. However, high winds are expected Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The high each day will be about 90 degrees.
What’s the best way to keep up with the tournament
Fans have numerous options:
- TV: The SEC Network will show every game on the first two days, with ESPNU having the semifinals and ESPN2 showing the title game.
- Radio: 93.3 FM in Tuscaloosa.
- Live video will be available on WatchESPN.
- Live stats will be available.
- Twitter updates: @AlabamaSB
What you should know
- Auburn has been on the road since April 21. It closed its regular season with a doubleheader sweep at Chattanooga on Sunday, winning 7-0 and 9-0. The previous week it was swept in a three-game series at Texas A&M. The Tigers were 2-6 in conference play since pulling off a series win at Tennessee in early April.
- Auburn won the season series with Alabama 2-1 on March 16-18. All three games played on the Plains were tight, with nine runs scored between the teams. The Sunday game, won 2-1 by the Tigers, is when Alabama senior pitcher Alexis Osorio took a line drive off her head.
- Alabama has only two losses against teams ranked outside of the Top 25. The Crimson Tide have played 26 games against ranked opponents.
- Alabama senior infielder Demi Turner was named the SEC Player of the Week. She went 7 for 11 (.636) against Texas A&M and has an eight-game hitting streak.
- Since returning from a foot injury, sophomore Bailey Hemphill is 5 for 8 (.625) with 3 home runs, 8 RBI and 4 walks. She had an on-base percentage of .727 against Texas A&M.
- Freshman outfielder Kaylee Tow was named All-SEC and to the SEC All-Freshman team. Osorio and sophomores Elissa Brown and Hemphill were all second-team All-SEC.
- SEC ranked teams are Florida (4/4), Tennessee (7/8), Georgia (8/9), LSU (11/11), South Carolina (12/14), Alabama (13/15), Texas A&M (14/13), Auburn (15/17), Arkansas (18/19), Kentucky (19/18) and Mississippi State (25/RV). Ole Miss also received votes.