Team USA softball was not exactly challenged in their debut. Jennie Finch threw five innings of no-hit ball, and was backed by three home runs from her teammates. Of course, this was against a Venezuela team that looked exhausted halfway through the first innning.
Their game against Australia should be a completely different ball of wax. The Australian team has medaled in every Olympics, with two silvers and a bronze. They are coming off a 4-3 loss to Japan, one of the other teams with medals in softball. Tanya Harding will likely be the starting pitcher. (Nope, not that one.) Having played for every Australian Olympic team that has lost to America, Harding will undoubtedly have a chip on her shoulder for the U.S.
The United States has their own experienced pitcher with Cat Osterman. An imposing figure at 6'2", Osterman has a demeanor and control like that of Greg Maddux. Osterman will want to keep speedster Natalie Ward off the bases, and limit Moseley at the plate. With Harding pitching, the bats of Crystl Bustos and Natasha Watley will have to be especially lively, as Harding is likely to confound other hitters.
Tonight's game will not be a high-scoring match-up. With having two great pitchers in the circle, it will be interesting to see if either team can score at all, but the U.S. will be too tough to overcome. The Aussies have recognized that a miracle might be needed for the gold, but they think they can make that miracle happen. With one loss already on the books, that miracle needs to start tonight.
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