Pac-10 Olympic Spotlight: Softball
Aug. 20, 2008
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2008 Pac-10 Olympic Accomplishments - Aug. 20
- Calbears.com gives you an inside look at the Golden Bears in Beijing.
- UCLA's Natalie Golda scored one goal and added one assist to help lift the U.S. women's water polo team past Australia, 9-8, and into the gold medal match against the Netherlands, slated to take place Thursday, Aug. 21 at 3:20 a.m. PT. Team USA led 8-5 after three quarters before Australia tied the contest, 8-8, with 2:27 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Brenda Villa scored the game-winning goal on a 6-on-5 opportunity with exactly one minute to, and the Americans held Australia scoreless through the game's final seconds to preserve the win. Former UCLA goalkeeper Jaime Hipp did not play. The U.S. team is led by former UCLA head coach Guy Baker.
Since the inception of women's water polo as an Olympic sport in 2000 (Sydney, Australia), the U.S. women's water polo team has advanced to the medal round each year - Team USA earned a silver medal in 2000, took home the bronze in 2004 (Athens, Greece) and assured itself of at least a silver-medal finish in 2008. (Courtesy of uclabruins.com)
PAC-10 OLYMPIC PARTICIPANT SPOTLIGHT: Softball
PAC-10 ATHLETES:U.S. Olympic Team
PAC-10 INSTITUTIONS:Arizona, UCLA, Stanford, California
CURRENT OR FORMER ATHLETE:Former Athletes
The United States Softball team, comprised mostly of Pac-10 athletes (14), survived quite a scare on Wednesday, but a four-run uprising in the ninth inning propelled the defending champions into the final.
Hardly challenged in either the 2004 or 2008 Olympic Games, the Americans were held scoreless through eight innings before an RBI single by Arizona's Caitlin Lowe and a three-run homer by Crystl Bustos propelled the team to a 4-1 triumph over Japan.
The Americans (8-0), had won their first seven games in Beijing by a combined 53-1 and came in batting .377 as a team to their opponents' .042. The U.S. needed just five innings to claim its last four victories before the mercy rule was enforced. The Japanese, who had dropped a 7-0 decision to the Americans earlier in the tournament, held the mighty U.S. Lineup to just four hits in eight innings.
With the game being played with the international tiebreaker instituted -- both clubs begin their at-bats with a runner at second base -- the Americans finally opened the scoring in the ninth inning.
Lowe opened the scoring with her second hit of the contest, and Bustos extended the advantage with her fifth home run of the games and 13th of her Olympic career.
'Basically I was just trying to stay calm,' Bustos said of her blast. 'Throughout the game, I was trying to make adjustments to her (Japanese starter Yukiko Ueno) pitches and try to hit what she was throwing instead of waiting for my pitch. And stepping into the box that time she came with that first ball I took hard down the middle.'
'Then I knew she wasn't going to throw anything that was going to try to dance by me. I knew she was going to throw at me hard and try to beat me with her speed. Knowing the last at-bat she jammed me up and in, so I knew she was going to go there again.'
Monica Abbott pitched eight strong innings, allowing one run and three hits while striking out 11. Cat Osterman recorded the final three outs for the Americans, who recorded their 22nd consecutive victory in Olympic play.
'Well if I said it was a great ballgame, it would be an understatement,' American coach and current Arizona head coach Mike Candrea said. 'That was softball at its best internationally.'
'There were two very good teams and you saw great pitching, saw great defense, great adjustments at the plate, international tie-breaker, 20-second clock. You really saw everything that the sport has to offer. It was a tremendous effort on Monica's part. I thought she threw exceptionally well and gave us an opportunity to win the game.'
Australia will face Japan later Wednesday with the winner advancing to Thursday's grand final against the United States. (Courtesy of AP)
|PAC-10 MEDAL COUNT (as of August 20, 2008)|
|PAC-10 MEDAL COUNT* (as of August 20, 2008)|
*Pac-10 Medal Count reflects individual medals as well as medals won as part of a team effort.
Click Here for a complete breakdown of Pac-10 Olympic Medals by sport.