USA Softball Remains Unbeaten With Win Over Canada
Aug. 18, 2004
Athens, Greece - In front of the largest crowd thus far at Helliniko Stadium totaling 3,215, the USA Softball Olympic team continued to dominate its opponents with a 7-0 run-rule victory over Canada. Improving to 5-0 and securing a play-off round berth, the 7-0 shutout marked the third run-rule victory for Team USA in Olympic competition. The U.S. has not allowed a run while outscoring opponents 31-0.For the fourth time in five games, the U.S. manufactured its first run in the first inning. Like usual, UCLA's Natasha Watley, who is leading the U.S. batting at .471, led off the inning with an infield hit and Leah O'Brien-Amico laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Watley to second. A fielder's choice by Crystl Bustos recorded the second out of the inning but former Bruin Lisa Fernandez kept the U.S. alive with a chopping infield base hit to put two runners on board. A walk issued to Stacey Nuveman loaded the bases and Canadian pitcher Auburn Sigurdson pushed the first U.S. run across after hitting Loveianne Jung with an inside pitch.The U.S. bats continued to heat up adding two more runs in the second. Jessica Mendoza led off the inning by being hit by a pitch and Watley singled for the second time in the game. With two outs the runners looked as if they would be stranded, but the bat of Bustos launched a towering shot to centerfield that was dropped by Canadian outfielder Rachel Schill to score Mendoza and Watley.Increasing its lead to 4-0, the U.S. led off the bottom half of the third with a base hit through the left side by Nuveman. The sweet swing of Kretschman, batting .400, provided her third double of the Games plating pinch-runner Tairia Mims Flowers .The U.S. offense flexed its muscles in the fourth as Bustos led off the second half of the inning with her second solo home run of the Games. Fernandez followed the Bustos performance with a solo shot of her own to take a 6-0 advantage.Bustos and Fernandez helped seal the run-rule victory in the fifth with a left field line base hit from Bustos followed by an RBI single to right center for Fernandez. Bustos finished the day going 2-for-4 while Fernandez led the charge with a 3-for-4 performance and two RBI. Watley, who through five games is 8-of-17 (.471), had a 2-for-4 outing.With two games left in round-robin action, Team USA will battle host country Greece on Thursday, August 19 at 12 noon at Helliniko Stadium before closing out round-robin play against Chinese Taipei on August 20 at 12 noon, Athens Time. The game will be broadcast live at 2 am Pacific Time on MSNBC.Team USA is now 5-0 in pool play, one game ahead of Australia (4-1) in the standings. Greece, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei and Japan all check in with 2-3 records, while Italy is 1-4 in preliminary round competition.