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Softball

United States Blanks Taiwan, Advances to Semifinals

Saturday, August 21, 2004; Page D14

Seven straight Olympic shutouts. The U.S. softball team is rolling like no team in history.

Cat Osterman struck out 10 in six innings, Crystl Bustos homered and the United States (7-0) completed its run through the preliminary round with a 3-0 win over Taiwan, setting up a U.S.-Australia showdown in the semifinals.

Amanda Freed, right, and the U.S. softball team earned its seventh consecutive shutout of these Olympics with a 3-0 victory over Taiwan on Friday. (Tami Chappell - Reuters)


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Through seven games, the Americans have outscored their opponents 41-0, allowed 11 hits, permitted three runners to reach third and are poised to rewrite the Olympic record book.

"We want to dominate," center fielder Amanda Freed said.

Having cruised through round robin play unscathed, the United States moves into tomorrow's semifinals for a rematch with Australia, the only team to beat the Americans twice in the Olympics.

And the pitcher who got both of those wins -- Tanya Harding -- likely will start for the Aussies.

"I'm kind of thinking she might be on the mound," said U.S. Coach Mike Candrea, who will go with Jennie Finch or Lisa Fernandez.

Both gladly would take the ball. "I want to start every day," Fernandez said.

"I hope I do start," Finch said, "but if I don't I'll support whoever is."

The Americans beat Australia, 10-0, Aug. 15 in a game shortened to five innings by the mercy rule.

-- From News Services


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