Women flip script: Softball loses, soccer wins

Soon after the United States softball team lost what could be the last ever softball game at the Olympics, the American women's soccer team struck gold in Beijing.

The supposedly unbeatable U.S. softball team, the team so dominant the IOC kicked the sport out of the Games, at least for London in 2012, lost, 3-1, to Japan in the gold medal game Thursday night.

The U.S. was roundly outplayed by a Japanese team whose pitcher, Yukiko Ueno, went all seven innings ... after she threw 21 innings Wednesday in two extra-innings games, nine against the U.S., then 12 against Australia. She pitched out of bases-loaded jams in the first and sixth innings. Crystl Bustos supplied the scoring with her sixth homer of the Games -- a half-swing, opposite-field blast in the fourth, breaking her single Games record for homers by one and extending her career record to 14.

Japan turned in three scintillating defensive plays in the bottom of the seventh to preserve the win.

It was the first time the U.S. has not won the gold since softball became an Olympic sport in 1996.

Meanwhile, across town, Hope Solo, the goalie who wasn't good enough to face Brazil in the World Cup last year, was in net against the Brazilians in that gold medal game. Delran's Carli Lloyd punched in the deciding goal in the 96th minute. That was during the first of two mandated 15-minute overtime periods.

Solo's contention that she would have played better in the World Cup final than did veteran Briana Scurry, coach Greg Ryan's choice, earned her the team's ostracization, which, in turn, cost Ryan his job. Solo had faced Brazil twice in friendlies, but this time, things weren't so friendly.

The U.S. has won three of the four Olympic women's soccer tournaments and was the defending gold medalist.