The U.S. women's softball team advanced to the gold medal game for the fourth time after a nine-inning 4-1 win over Japan at Fengtai Softball Field Wednesday morning (local time).
Caitlin Lowe (Tustin, Calif.) rapped a single to open the ninth and drive in Natasha Watley (Irvine, Calif. ) to break a 0-0 tie. After Jessica Mendoza (Camarillo, Calif.) reached first, Crystl Bustos (Canyon Country, Calif.) launched a three-run home run to left that came within five rows of leaving the park.
Japan tried to answer in the bottom of the ninth, but was unable to do more than plate an unearned run when Motoko Fujimoto scored from second, where she began the inning under softball's extra-inning rule.
Lowe led the U.S. offense with two hits. Monica Abbott (Salinas, Calif.) struck out 11 and walked one in eight innings of work to pick up the win, while Cat Osterman (Houston, Texas) pitched the ninth and picked up a strikeout.
Under the Page play-off system being employed at the 2008 Olympic Games, Japan will now face the winner of this afternoon's Australia-Canada game at 6 p.m. Wednesday. The winner of that game will face the U.S. in the gold medal game at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Cat Osterman recorded only the second complete game no-hitter in Olympic softball history to spark the United States to a 3-0 victory over Australia at the Fengtai Softball Field Wednesday afternoon.
Osterman struck out 12 and surrendered only three walks as she joined Lori Harrigan as the only two pitchers to spin complete game no hitters in an Olympic game. Harrigan posted a perfect game in a 6-0 victory over Canada on Sept. 17, 2000, the opening game of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
Lovieanne Jung broke open a scoreless game in the bottom of the fifth inning . She drew a walk from Australian pitcher Tanya Harding, stole second and then scored when Natasha Watley spanked the ball over the shortstop's head. Crystl Bustos provided the insurance runs in the bottom of the six with an opposite field two-run homer that scored Jessica Mendoza.
The U.S. improves to 2-0 in preliminary play and will face Canada on Thursday.
BEIJING -- Behind an Olympic record offensive output and a combined no-hitter by Jennie Finch (La Mirada, Calif.) and Monica Abbott (Salinas, Calif.), the U.S. women's softball team opened the defense of its gold medal with an 11-0 win over Venezuela in five innings.
The 11 runs was an Olympic record for an individual team and was sparked by the long ball. Natasha Watley (Irving, Calif.) hit a two-run shot and Caitlin Lowe (Tustin, Calif.) had an inside-the-park homer in the second and Crystl Bustos (Canyon Country, Calif.) had a solo homer in the third. Finch struck out five and walked two over four innings before giving way to Abbott, who struck out a pair in one inning of work.
Next up for the U.S. is Australia, with the game scheduled for noon Wednesday, Aug. 13.