Lori Harrigan twirled her index finger like a conductor's baton, leading the American fans' serenade.
"H-A-Double-R-I," they bellowed as she headed for the team bus, "G-A-N, spells Harrigan."
It's a familiar tune. So was the U.S. team's fourth straight shutout. Harrigan, a two-time gold medalist, pitched a one-hitter, and Crystl Bustos broke out of her slump with a home run in a 4-0 win over China.
Lovieanne Jung had two RBI, and Leah O'Brien-Amico hit a run-scoring double as the United States ran its winning streak to 74 games and improved its international record against China to 10-1.
The United States now has 14 shutouts in 23 games since softball joined the Olympics in 1996.
"Numbers mean nothing to us right now," Coach Mike Candrea said. "There's a long way to go."
Harrigan's relief outing in the opener against Italy (three hits, 11/3 innings) was one of the few moments when the powerful U.S. team has shown any cracks. The 33-year-old atoned yesterday.
"She had her full arsenal," said catcher Jenny Topping, who had two hits. "She couldn't miss with a pitch."
Bustos connected for her first homer of the Games in the fifth inning to put the United States ahead 4-0. She had been in a 1-for-10 slump. As she left the batter's box, Bustos did a Sammy Sosa-like hop.
-- From News Services