Alabama softball won’t have to wade through much tape when it comes to scouting its first opponent in the SEC Tournament. After hosting Missouri for a three-game series over the weekend, the No. 2 Crimson Tide will open up against the No. 7 seed Tigers on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. CT in the quarterfinals of the single-elimination tournament.
This year's SEC Tournament is being held at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, Fla.
Alabama (41-10) took two out of three games against Missouri (34-19) last weekend, losing 3-2 in extra innings on Friday before recording back-to-back 3-1 victories on Saturday and Sunday. As the No. 2 seed in the tournament, the Crimson Tide earned a bye heading into Thursday’s matchup. Missouri beat No. 10 seed Auburn 1-0 Wednesday to earn its place in the quarterfinals.
While Alabama will be familiar with Missouri, the Tigers’ bats have also had a good look at Crimson Tide pitcher Montana Fouts, who made three appearances over the weekend, pitching 17⅔ of the series’ 22 innings. Of course, Missouri wasn’t able to do much with the extra reps as Fouts earned SEC Pitcher of the Week honors, giving up just four runs, three earned, on 12 hits while striking out 26 batters and issuing six walks in the series.
“The more you face teams, you have to look more about them also. I guess how their swings work and stuff like that,” Fouts said on Tuesday. “For me personally, it’s more of trusting my defense because I feel like when I try to throw it really hard is when it gets hit really hard.”
If Fouts gets the starting nod for Thursday's game, one of her biggest tasks will be slowing down red-hot Missouri shortstop Jenna Laird, who leads the Tigers with a .348 batting average and is currently riding a 10-game hitting streak. Laird went 4-for-10 at the plate against Alabama over the weekend, including 3-for-7 against Fouts. During Missouri's win over Auburn on Wednesday, the sophomore went 2-for-3, knocking in the game's only run with an RBI double.
Missouri’s lineup also features four players — Kimberly Wert, Brooke Wilmes, Kendyll Bailey and Kara Daily — who all have 11 or more home runs on the season.
The Tigers also have a pair of dependable pitchers in Jordan Weber and Lauren Krings.
Weber (14-6, 2.61 ERA) was the winning pitcher in Missouri’s lone victory against Alabama over the weekend. She also earned the win over Auburn on Wednesday, surrendering four hits and three walks while striking out eight batters in a complete-game shutout.
Krings (13-8, 3.13 ERA) entered Wednesday ranked third in the SEC with 159 strikeouts. She is coming off a loss to Alabama on Saturday where she gave up three earned runs on five hits while striking out five batters and issuing a pair of walks.
The winner of Thursday’s game will move on to the semifinals where it will face either No. 3 seed Tennessee or No. 11 seed Mississippi State on Friday at 3 p.m. After winning last year's SEC Tournament, Alabama is looking to defend its crown while adding a seventh conference tournament title to its trophy case.
How to watch
Matchup: No. 2 seed Alabama (41-10) vs. No. 7 seed Missouri (34-19)
Where: Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium, Gainsville, Fla.
When: 1:30 p.m. CT, Thursday
TV: SEC Network