Tuesday, November 24, 2015

U.S. escapes upset bid in softball

Northern neighbors botch upset chance

U.S. escapes upset bid in softball


It was all set: All Canada had to do was hold on to a lead in the completion of a rain-suspended preliminary game to hand Team USA its first loss in Olympic softball since 2000.

Smoked meat for everyone!

But they blew it.

Faster than you could say, "Je me souviens," the Canadians forgot how to play.

The U.S. scored four unearned runs in the sixth and rolled to an 8-1 win, their 18th straight dating back to 2000.

But they were ripe.

The U.S. had to play Japan right before the completion of the suspended game. They won, 7-0, and it was on to Canada.


In the first inning of the teams' prelim game Thursday, Canada had scored a run off an error, an illegal pitch and a sacrifice fly in the first inning, the first time Team USA had trailed in Olympic competition since the gold medal game against Japan in 2000.

After two rain delays the game was suspended due to inclement weather, the U.S. still down, 1-0.

Then yesterday, under the bluest skies Beijing has seen in two dynasties, Canada imploded with two out in the sixth.

With runners on first and second and two out, they chose to walk slugger Crystl Bustos, the world's most dangerous hitter, and put the tying run on third. Pitcher Dione Meier then hit Kelly Kretschman, forcing in one run and allowing the runners to advance. Meier then fired a wild pitch, allowing another to score. On the next play shortstop Jennifer Salling overthrew first base, allowing two more to score.


Cautiously, afterward Meier said of walking Bustos, "As a pitcher, you have to do those things sometimes."

After the rest of the mess unfolded -- or, in Canada's case, folded -- Team USA smelled the blood and fed. They clobbered Meier, now clearly rattled, for four more two-out runs in the seventh.

"I wasn't happy with the way it went (in the sixth) because we didn't score our own runs," Bustos said. "It was nice to have that seventh."

Cat Osterman completed yesterday's suspended game and allowed a seventh-inning hit. Monica Abbott, who started the game Thursday against Canada, started against Japan yesterday and allowed one hit.

Those are the only hits allowed by the U.S. in its four games, along with the one run.

It might have been enough.

Below: Gratuitous picture of Team USA pitcher Jennie Finch, who did not play yesterday.



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About this blog

SAM DONNELLON's career began in Biddeford, Me., in 1981, and has included stops in Wilkes-Barre, Norfolk, and New York, where he worked as a national writer for the short-lived but highly acclaimed National Sports Daily. He has received state and national awards at each stop and since joining the Daily News in 1992 has been honored by the Associated Press Sports Editors, the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, the Associated Press Managing Editors of Pennsylvania and the Keystone Awards. He and his wife have raised three fine children, none of whom are even the least bit impressed with the above. Sam is veteran of Olympics coverage for the Daily News, including the Games in Sydney and Turin, among others.

MARCUS HAYES grew up on a small farm outside of Hermon, NY., a small town near the Canadian border about the size of Reading Terminal Market. In high school he played three varsity sports and aspired to be faster, or more skilled, or taller. Having failed in those aspirations and seeking a warmer climate, Marcus attended Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and eventually graduated with a degree in Magazine Writing. He also earned a degree in English from the College of Arts and Sciences. To date he has written for no magazines. His English is spotty at best. Upon graduation in 1990, with Jim Boeheim's talent-leaden SU basketball teams having won no titles, Marcus spent 4½ years working for the now-absorbed Syracuse Herald-Journal covering high school sports, local small college sports and non-revenue sports at SU. Marcus joined the Daily News as a feature story writer in 1995. Among other assignments he has covered the Eagles and Phillies beats for most of his tenure. Still, the paper soldiers on.

Sam Donnellon and Marcus Hayes
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