TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – A capacity crowd at Alabama's Rhoads Stadium watched the home team go victorious in the opening softball game of the Tuscaloosa Regional.
The Crimson Tide, the No. 2 seed nationally, improved to 46-11 on the season with a 13-3 victory in five innings over SIUE.
"I'm proud of the way the kids battled, and we'll come back out here tomorrow and give our all," said SIUE Head Coach Sandy Montgomery.
Alabama raced out to a 9-0 lead in the first three innings. Jaydyn Spencer homered in the first inning. The Crimson Tide added four runs in the second all with two outs, and added RBI singles by Kalia Hunt and Spencer in the third.
"Alabama has a great offense and they proved it tonight," said Montgomery.
Haley Chambers started for the Cougars and took the loss. She allowed seven runs in 1 2/3 innings and struck out two Alabama batters.
The Cougars battled back against Alabama starter Leslie Jury, 16-6.
Allison Smiley opened up the fourth inning with a single through the left side, extending her season-best streak of 26 games reaching base. Alex McDavid added an infield single. Rachel Coonrod then doubled to the wall in right center as Smiley and McDavid raced home.
SIUE added a single tally in the fifth when Kayla Riggs, who opened the inning with a base hit, scored on a wild pitch by Jury.
"I was proud of my team the way they kept battling," said Montgomery. "We got some runs across the board. I didn't feel like we were intimidated. We were a little tight to begin with, but we played hard."
Alabama closed out the game in the bottom of the fifth when Hunt scored on a wild pitch off SIUE reliever Erin Greenwalt. Leona Lafaele ended the game with a three-run homer over the left-field fence.
SIUE will play South Alabama in the first elimination game of the tournament at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. USC Upstate defeated South Alabama in the first game of the tournament 5-3 in eight innings.
"We played them last year and beat them early in the season," Montgomery said. "It's going to be tough."