U.S. continues to roll with 4-0 decision over China
Aug. 17, 2004
Athens, Greece - Former Bruin Natasha Watley scored two of USA Softball's four runs and Lisa Fernandez scored a third as the United States remained undefeated in pool play on Tuesday at the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. UCLA's Amanda Freed earned her first start of the Games against China and recorded two putouts in right field.A perfect 4-0 in Olympic competition, the USA Softball Olympic team continued to roll along in round-robin play with a 4-0 victory over 1996 silver medalist China. A one-hit performance from two-time Olympic gold medalist Lori Harrigan led the U.S. to the victory in her first start in these Olympic Games. Harrigan, a south paw that works as a security supervisor at the Bellagio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, totaled eight strikeouts while allowing only a bunt single to the lead-off batter in the first inning.The U.S. pitching staff has yet to allow a run in the 2004 Olympic Games and has given up just six total hits in the first four games. Outscoring opponents 24-0, the win marks the 14th shutout victory for Team U.S. in Olympic history and moves its current win streak to 74-0.The U.S. bats provided Harrigan with an early lead jumping ahead 2-0 after the first inning. A lead-off fielding error by Chinese shortstop Qiang Wei, allowed table setter Natasha Watley to reach first. Watley, who is hitting a scorching .462 with an on base percentage of .533, looked as if she would be left stranded after two consecutive outs but Chinese pitcher Lixia Zhang kept the U.S. offensive attack alive with back-to-back walks to load the bases. Lovieanne Jung, who has shown patience at the plate the entire tournament, waited for her pitch and drove a two RBI base hit to left center to put two runs on the board. The first inning has been extremely productive for Team USA scoring in three of the four games so far.The left-handed bat of two-time Olympian Leah O'Brien-Amico added a security run in the bottom half of the second with a stand-up double to left field that scored Watley, who reached on walk and stole second. Amico's double was the ninth extra base hit for the U.S. in the Games.Harrigan and crew held the Chinese scoreless in the seventh to secure its fourth victory before heading into Wednesday's match-up against northern foe Canada. Set for battle at 5 p.m., Canada, who is coming off a solid eight-inning 1-0 win over Japan, is currently 1-3 in competition. The game will air live on MSNBC on Wednesday morning at 7 am Pacific Time.
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