In a way, the University of Alabama softball team is already playing with house money.
By opening the SEC Tournament with a 4-1 victory against Arkansas on Wednesday, the Crimson Tide have already achieved their biggest goal this week.
The win made Alabama all but a lock to host a NCAA Regional next week, especially considering how the Crimson Tide always draws well in attendance.
Specifically, the top 16 seeds in the NCAA Tournament will serve as regional hosts May 19-21. Alabama has hosted a regional every year since 2004.
It came into the SEC Tournament ranked No. 15 in the USA Today/NFCA poll and No. 16 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. It’s No. 14 in the latest RPI rankings, which is used in seeding teams.
Arkansas was ranked No. 30, and Texas A&M eighth. The Aggies (42-9) are No. 11 in both polls.
So even if Alabama (41-15) loses in the single-elimination tournament, it’ll won’t take an RPI hit.
Alabama softball vs. Texas A&M, game time, details
According to the Weather Channel, the forecast is for cloudy skies, 76 degrees, no chance of rain and winds WSW 10 mph. Should Alabama advance, rain and possible storms are in the forecast for Friday afternoon.
Game time: Thursday, noon ET
Location: Sherri Parker Lee Stadium, Knoxville, Tenn.
What’s the best way to watch the Alabama softball game vs. Texas A&M?
Every game of the tournament will be on TV, with the SEC Network showing the second round, ESPNU broadcasting Friday’s semifinals (3 and 5:30 p.m., ET), and ESPN the championship on Saturday (8 p.m. ET).
Second round (if advances): vs. Texas A&M, noon ET, SEC Network
Announcers: Adam Amin, Amanda Scarborough and Laura Rutledge
What’s the best way to keep up with the Alabama softball game vs. Texas A&M?
In addition to the TV/video broadcast, other options include:
What you should know
- Alabama second baseman Demi Turner appears to be getting closer to returning to the starting lineup. She pinch-ran for Peyton Grantham in the second inning and was thrown out trying to steal. It’s the third time she’s been a base-runner in the last week after missing more than a month due to vision problems stemming from a concussion and orbital bone fracture on April 1. Turner has been Alabama’s best hitter this season with an .387 average.
- Like Alabama, Texas A&M didn’t come into the SEC Tournament with momentum. The Aggies lost the last two SEC series of the season, to then No. 18 Kentucky and No. 9 Tennessee. They won the two series before that, against the only team that didn’t qualify for the SEC Tournament, Georgia, and 12th-seeded Arkansas.
- Although she pitched two innings of relief on Wednesday, look for junior Alexis Osorio (20-7, 1.32 ERA, 290 strikeouts) to get the start. She was named second-team All-SEC while outfielder Elissa Brown and infielder Bailey Hemphill were named Freshman All-SEC earlier this week.
- Sophomore infielder Riley Sartain leads Texas A&M with a .364 average and 41 RBIs, while junior first baseman Tori Vidales has 14 home runs and 40 RBIs. Sartain was one of two Aggies named second-team All-SEC, the other being junior infielder Kristen Cuyos. Outfielred Sarah Hudek was named to the All-Freshman team.
- Texas A&M hits .305 as a team.
- Led by junior Trinity Harrington (13-2, 1.60) and sophomore Samantha Show (17-6, 1.89 ERA), the Aggies have a team ERA of 1.85. Junior Lexi Smith is 11-1 record with a 1.65 ERA.
- The teams didn’t play during the regular season. Alabama leads the all-time series 10-3, and took two of three in College Station last year.