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Japan Stuns USA Softball

Posted by mikeyactive on Aug 22, 2008 11:58:26 AM

Last summer at the World Cup of Softball III in Oklahoma  City the buzz in the press box wasn’t the dominating (ho-hum) performance of  Team USA—it was a phantom injury that kept Japan’s best pitcher, Yukiko Ueno,  out of the tournament.

The word was Ueno wasn’t truly hurt; she had played just a  week prior. Instead, it was speculated, Team Japan  didn’t want to give the Americans a chance to face Ueno—a talented hurler who  had handed Team USA their  first loss in Olympic competition since Sept. 21, 2000 at Sydney—before  Beijing.

13 months later it might have been the decisive factor in  helping Japan to an  improbable upset of Team USA.

  Last night Ueno snapped Team USA’s  22-game Olympic winning streak en route to a 3-1 victory and first gold medal. Ueno  pitched seven innings, one day after she pitched 21 to get the Japanese into  the gold-medal game.

  What makes the defeat especially bitter is that it is the sport's final  appearance in the Olympics for at least eight years.

  Having covered this team for the last three years it’s hard to put into  words the disappointment this team must have felt. One needs only to see the  sight of players such as Crystl  Bustos and Tairia  Flowers leave their cleats at home plate—a symbolic gesture demonstrating  their decision to retire from international competition.

  So where does Team USA  go from here? And will this help or hurt the game of softball?

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