Andee Allen's sixth inning performance might have saved the Missouri softball team's Big 12 Conference tournament title hopes.
Allen, a senior who has started all but one game at second base for the Tigers this season, kept Baylor from scoring in the top of the inning with two impressive defensive plays. She then scored the game's only run in the bottom of the inning to propel Missouri to the championship game on Sunday.
“I don’t know if I did anything more than I was supposed to do," Allen said in a release. "You’re out there to make plays, so I look at it just as doing my job. You’re supposed to throw everything you’ve got at it, diving, everything. They were in a position to score, so I was just thinking keep the ball in the infield and save as many runs as possible.”
With Baylor runners on first and second and one out in top of the sixth, Allen made a diving stop behind second base and was able to flip the ball to shortstop Abby Vock without returning to her feet to record an out and keep a run from scoring.
Allen preserved the scoreless tie again on the next at-bat diving to her left to get the final out of the inning.
Then, with one out in the bottom of the inning, Allen tripled on the first pitch she saw from Big 12 Pitcher of the Year Whitney Canion and later scored on first baseman Marla Schweisberger's single to propel Missouri to a 1-0 win on Saturday at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.
“MVP for sure, of that game," said Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine of Allen's performance. "You see it a lot, though, kids make great plays defensively and then they come up to bat the next inning and smash one. You’ll see that all the time. Definitely the game MVP. I’m proud of her, happy for her.
The No. 2 seeded Tigers will face top-seeded Oklahoma in the championship game at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday. The game will be shown on the Fox Sports Network.
Missouri was swept by Oklahoma at home during the regular season. Earleywine and multiple players on the team have expressed a desire to play the Sooners again to try to get some retribution for losing the regular-season conference title to Oklahoma.
Missouri's only Big 12 tournament title came in 1997, the same year the team claimed the program's only regular season title.
Stacey Delaney got the win for Missouri on Saturday. Delaney, a senior, pitched six shutout innings against the Bears, giving up three hits without recording a walk or strike out. She was relieved by Kristen Nottelman, who struck out two in a scoreless seventh.
Earlier in the day Missouri, which had lost four of its past five games entering the tournament, batted around in the first and second innings against Oklahoma State on its way to a 10-0 victory in five innings to advance.
"I was really curious to see how we were going to come into this weekend after that slump to see if we had truly turned the page," Earleywine said in a release after defeating Oklahoma State. "Indeed, it feels like we have. We had a lot of people swinging the bats good. We have a lot of fresh pitchers. We’re kind of well built for tournament play with as deep as our pitching is, so I like our chances.”
Freshman Chelsea Thomas was dominant for a second appearance in a row after struggling with a shoulder injury for more than a month. Thomas gave up three hits and had three strikeouts in four innings before being relieved by Jana Hainey.
Earleywine is likely to start either Thomas or Delaney in the championship game on Sunday.
Lindsey Ubrun was 2-for-2 against the Cowgirls with three runs scored and four RBI, including three on a first-inning home run.
Centerfielder Rhea Taylor and first baseman Marla Schweisberger were also 2-for-2 at the plate.
Ubrun, Taylor and Schweisberger were named to the Big 12 All-Conference first team on Friday night along with Delaney.
Catcher Megan Christopher and Nottelman, who has been used as a pitcher and a designated player this season, were named to the second team.