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Mizzou falls to LSU in NCAA softball

2012-05-27T00:00:00Z 2012-05-27T08:12:31Z Mizzou falls to LSU in NCAA softballBY STEVE OVERBEY • Special to the Post-Dispatch stltoday.com

COLUMBIA, Mo. • The LSU Tigers found a way to derail the Chelsea Thomas express on Saturday night.

LSU handed the Missouri ace righthander one of her worst beatings of the season in rolling to a relatively easy 6-1 win in Game 1 of the best-of-three Columbia Super Regional before 2,253 at University Field.

Game 2 is set for today at 2:30 p.m. A third game, if necessary, will follow at 5 p.m.

The winner advances to the World Series beginning Thursday in Oklahoma City.

Thomas had given up just one earned run in her previous 41 1/3 innings entering the contest. She left with one of the worst pitching lines of her career.

LSU infielder Allison Falcon led the assault with two hits three RBIs.

Thomas (26-8), a junior, gave up five earned runs in 4 1/3 innings, her second-shortest start of the season. She walked six, a season-high for a seven-inning game. She also hit two batters and allowed a run to score on a wild pitch in a disastrous three-run fifth inning that put the Southeastern Conference Tigers in control 5-1.

"I can't think of a worse game for me," Thomas said. "It wasn't my day. I struggled with the strike zone and that's what happened."

Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine said it was just "one of those days" for Thomas.

"She's carried the water for us for three years and she just had an off night," he said.

Missouri, the No. 9 overall seed, had a seven-game winning streak snapped and fell to 46-13. LSU is 38-22.

Mizzou, facing its soon-to-be conference rival, managed eight hits against LSU righty Rachele Fico, who is on a run of her own. Fico tossed a pair of two-hit shutouts in helping her club to the championship of the College Station Regional last weekend.

Thomas, who had won eight in a row, gave up a pair of runs in the third inning on Falcon's bases-loaded blooper into left-center field. Thomas walked three batters in the inning.

"It was a little surprising," Falcon said of Thomas' struggles. "She a talented pitcher, but what helped us is that we stayed within our game plan."

Missouri battled back to within 2-1 with a run off Fico in the fourth. Nicole Hudson led off with a double and came around to score on an infield single by Kayla Kingsley. Earleywine's club put the first two runners on in the sixth on a walk to Kelsea Roth and a single by Lindsey Muller. But Fico recorded a strikeout and then got Corrin Genovese to hit into a double play. Missouri loaded the bases in the seventh but came up empty.

Missouri pitcher Kristin Nottelmann, one of two seniors on the team, relieved Thomas and gave up one run over 2 2/3 innings.

Leadoff batter Mackenzie Sykes had two hits for Missouri. Ashley Fleming, the other senior on the roster, was 1-for-3.

Missouri is making its fifth successive appearance in the Super Regional and is searching for a school-record fourth consecutive trip to the World Series. The team remains confident that it can battle back.

"If we just play good softball, we can have a really fun Sunday," Earleywine said.

Added Fleming, "We're coming in with the mindset that we are going to play 14 innings."

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