Thomas' 2-hitter lifts Missouri to Big 12 title -

Thomas' 2-hitter lifts Missouri to Big 12 title

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Gina Schneider homered to back a two-hit shutout by freshman Chelsea Thomas as Missouri beat top-seeded Oklahoma 5-0 Sunday to win its first Big 12 softball title in 12 years.

Thomas (13-4) struck out four and walked two in her third straight start without giving up a run. She has thrown 18 straight scoreless innings since losing to the Sooners 4-2 two weeks ago.

Oklahoma had won six straight games against Missouri.

"I'm just really happy for our team," Mizzou coach Ehren Earlywine said. "We let the Big 12 regular season title kind of slip through our fingers. This doesn't totally make up for that, but it's a good feeling because we wanted to compete against Oklahoma because they came into our home place and beat us twice.

"Trophy or no trophy, we just wanted a chance to play them again. We're just a group of competitors that wanted another chance at a team that beat us twice, and that's what today was really about for us."

The Tigers scored their first run on Micaela Minner's bases-loaded walk in the first inning and then capitalized on two Oklahoma errors to score two unearned runs.

Schneider made it 4-0 when she hit a solo shot in the sixth inning for her sixth home run of the season.

Andee Allen added three hits and drove in a run for the second-seeded Tigers, who claimed the championship in the same city where the men's basketball team won its first Big 12 title in March.

Missouri was rewarded Sunday night with the chance to host an NCAA tournament regional. The Tigers will face Illinois in the first game in a regional that also features 15th-seeded DePaul and Bradley.

Oklahoma received the seventh overall seed and will also host a regional featuring first-round opponent North Dakota State, Tulsa and Arkansas.

Lindsey Vandever and Jeannie Douglass singled for Oklahoma's only hits against Thomas, who came into the tournament with a conference-best 1.26 ERA. She also pitched four scoreless innings in Missouri's 10-0 run rule victory against Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals.

Kirsten Allen (8-7) gave up three runs on five hits and three walks in four innings, running into trouble right off the bat. She gave up an infield single and then walked back-to-back batters on 3-2 counts to load the bases with nobody out.

She struck out Marla Schweisberger and Megan Christopher before walking Minner to give the Tigers a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

"If we get anything out of this game today, we got our freshman an opportunity on the mound. That's important going into postseason," said Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso, who decided to rest staff ace D.J. Mathis. "Offensively, we were not very disciplined overall but the pitcher did an outstanding job. We were swinging at balls that were too low."

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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