|FOUR TEAMS QUALIFY FOR 2004 OLYMPIC GAMES
United States wins 5th straight world championship
SASAKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN (CANADA) – Lisa Fernandez pitched a complete game shutout and Leah O’Brien-Amico drove in Natasha Watley – who had singled then stolen second – for the game’s only run with a double in the bottom of the third inning as Team USA defeated Japan to win the gold medal at the International Softball Federation’s X Women’s World Championship. This marks the fifth straight gold medal for the U.S. at this event.
Fernandez, whose pitching reached a peak speed of 71 miles per hour, limited
the silver medallists to just three hits and Watley provided a 3-for-3
performance at the plate for the two-time defending champions of the Summer
Olympics. Japan’s Juri Takayama, who started and pitched the first four
innings, took the loss.
A packed Bob Van Impe Stadium crowd of 6842 looked on, putting the event’s
final attendance total at 50,151.
Japan had reached the gold medal game with a 2-1 victory over Chinese Taipei in
the bronze medal game earlier in the day. That game was scoreless until Japan
registered two runs on three hits in the bottom of the sixth inning. Chinese
Taipei looked intent to rally, scoring a run in the top of the seventh with
only one out, but Tzu-Hui Pan struck out, and centerfielder Miao-Yi Chen lined
out to the second baseman to end the game.
The three teams that played today have all qualified to play in the 2004 Summer
Olympics in Athens, Greece, as has China whom Chinese Taipei defeated last
night to get to the bronze medal game.