U.S. Softball Wins Third Gold
By Karen Fanning
Monday, August 23—The U.S. women's softball team won gold today for the third time in a row. The team beat Australia in seven innings with a score of 5-1—the only time a team scored against the U.S. powerhouse in this year's competition.
Even the hot sun and Australian pitcher Tanya Harding couldn't stop the U.S. team. Pitcher Lisa Fernandez pitched a four-hitter and Crystl Bustos hit two home runs.
"Our whole team came together today," said Bustos, a two-time Olympian. "The bunting, the people getting on base, the hard-hit balls. Our defense was there. You can't beat it. The pitching was phenomenal. It's the best Olympic team I ever played on."
The Americans'run in this year's Olympic Games has been nothing short of perfection. In nine games, the team gave up only one run, and that was during the final game today. The team knocked in 51 runs against the opposition in nine games played at Olympic Softball Center in Athens.
"This is the greatest feeling in the world," said outfielder Kelly Kretschman. "We made it look easy, but every game was tough."
It was the same story in the semifinal game on Sunday. The U.S. squad scored five runs, while Fernandez blanked the Aussies. At 33, she is still on top of her game. The Australians looked lifeless against the American hurler, popping up flies and hitting harmless grounders.
"I felt like I had to try and keep them off balance," said Fernandez about the two-time defending bronze medalists. "They were going to make adjustments, and I had to stay one step ahead."
In other action, Japan defeated China, 1-0, to claim the bronze medal. Just two days after throwing the first perfect game in Olympic softball history, Japanese pitcher Yukiko Ueno allowed just three hits for the complete-game victory.