"I think everybody knows our goal is to win the conference championship," said Montgomery. "People know they have to play well against us to win as do we have to play well to win. It's going to be a battle I'm sure."
Third-seeded SIUE and sixth-seeded Eastern Kentucky will kick off the 2017 Championships at Choccolocco Park with a 10 a.m. first round game. The Cougars enter the weekend with a 38-11 record overall while Eastern Kentucky holds a 25-29 record.
"We have a good team chemistry and a good mix of kids who contribute to wins," said Montgomery.
SIUE's Haley Chambers-Book leads a pitching staff ranked No. 20 in the nation in earned run average at 1.86. Chambers-Book also is No. 7 nationally in complete-game shutouts at 10.
Senior second baseman Allison Smiley has been SIUE's top hitter during the regular season with a .358 batting average. She also leads the Cougars with 41 RBIs.
SIUE enters the weekend ranked seventh in the country in fielding percentage at .977.
"Defense has to be a staple whether or not you are good in anything else," said Montgomery. "We're fortunate to have a good pitching staff. I like our ability hit. We can hit with power and have good team speed. When the kids are confident, we can hit with anyone."
EKU is fourth in the country in doubles with a 1.63 doubles per game. Rachel Minogue is the team's top hitter with a .421 average. Johnkyria Alston and Minogue are No. 1 and No. 2 in the OVC in doubles with 19 and 17, respectively.
The rest of the first day at the OVC Tournament includes No. 2 seed UT Martin vs. No. 7 seed Tennessee Tech at 12:30 p.m. Fourth-seeded Eastern Illinois takes on fifth-seeded Murray State at 3 p.m. Top-seeded Jacksonville State faces No. 8 seed Belmont at 5:30 p.m.
SIUE's second game of the tournament will be Thursday against either UT Martin or Tennessee Tech. Wednesday's winners play at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday's first-round losers would play an elimination game at 10 a.m.