Japan snaps U.S. softball 112-game win streak

Posted: Tuesday, September 19, 2000

SYDNEY, Australia -- On a day when she needed help from her Olympic teammates, U.S softball pitcher Michele Smith didn't get much -- and the team's 112-game winning streak ended.

Monica Seles, after winning her first Sydney match, said she expects better from her powerful women's tennis teammates. And boxer Jose Navarro, who won his fight Tuesday (Monday night EDT), was just keeping up with his undefeated teammates in the Sydney Games.

At the softball competition, Smith threw 10 shutout innings -- but the Americans stranded a staggering 20 baserunners in an 11-inning, 2-1 loss to Japan. It was the first loss for the U.S. women, the gold medal winners in Atlanta, since the 1998 world championships.

A pair of errors by Dot Richardson led to Japan's two runs in the 11th, when Jennifer Brundage and Stacey Nuveman struck out looking with the tying run on base for the Americans.

Japan is now 3-0 in Olympic competition, while the United States dropped to 2-1. But the loss doesn't diminish the team's gold medal hopes, as the top four in the eight-team tournament advance to the medal round.

n WOMEN'S TENNIS: Seles, the first of the American women's tennis ''Dream Team'' on the court in Australia, needed just 48 minutes Tuesday to win her Olympic opener, 6-0, 6-1 over Katalin Marosi-Aracama of Hungary.

She then wasted no time in hailing her teammates: top-seeded Lindsay Davenport, the 1996 gold medalist, and second-seeded Venus Williams in singles; Williams and her sister, Serena, in doubles.

''I couldn't imagine a better team,'' Seles said. ''Everybody is playing their best, and coming from the U.S. Open, we're all pumped up.''

n MEN'S TENNIS: Todd Martin, making his Olympic debut at age 30, was eliminated from the tennis tournament by Rainer Schuttler of Germany 6-2, 6-0. Martin lost the final eight games.

Following him quickly to the exit was Vince Spadea, who replaced the injured Andre Agassi on the U.S. team. Australian Pat Rafter, to the delight of the partisan crowd, made short work of Spadea in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3.

n BOXING: Another match, another victory. Navarro scored the Americans' seventh consecutive victory in the first round of the Olympics, scoring a 16-10 victory over 112-pounder Hermensen Ballo of Indonesia. Navarro has won nine silver medals in assorted competitions, but hopes to finally grab a gold.

n MISSING WEIGHT-LIFTER: One of the two Romanian weightlifters banned from the Olympics after a positive steroid test has disappeared. Traian Ciharean, who was banned for life after the second positive test of his career, vanished Monday after refusing a plane trip home from the Romanian Olympic Committee.

n EQUESTRIAN: Three steady rounds of show-jumping produced a bronze medal for the American equestrian team. Australia won the gold, while Britain finished second in the three-day jumping event.

n SWIMMING: The Flying Dutchman was at it again.

One day after his stunning gold medal victory over Aussie Ian Thorpe, Pieter van den Hoogenband of the Netherlands was fastest swimmer Tuesday in the 100-meter freestyle preliminaries.

Van den Hoogenband crashed what was billed as a two-man party between American Gary Hall Jr. and Russian Alexander Popov, who waged a memorable sprint final at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Both also qualified for the semifinals in the race; Popov is the two-time defending gold medalist.

The finals were set for Wednesday.

Eric Moussambani of Equatorial Guinea didn't qualify, but he competed -- and that was enough. The 22-year-old, who trains in a 20-meter pool with no lanes in his west African homeland, finished more than a minute behind the leaders in his first attempt at swimming 100 meters.

In the men's 200 breaststroke, 19-year-old Kyle Salyards was the lone American to advance.

On the women's side, 21-year-old American Misty Hyman was top qualifier in the women's 200 butterfly, edging out world record holder Susie O'Neill of Australia. Kaitlin Sandeno, 17, of Lake Forest, Calif., also qualified for the semifinals.

Van den Hoogenband showed no ill effects from his medal-winning 200-meter performance against Thorpe.

In that same session, heavily favored U.S. swimmer Lenny Krayzelburg zipped across the pool in an Olympic-record 53.72 seconds to win the 100-meter backstroke. Krayzelburg's quick trip completed a lengthy journey that took him from Ukraine to the United States to Australia.

Joining him as a gold medalist was American Megan Quann, who won the 100-meter breaststroke. The 17-year-old backed up her boast of knocking off defending champion Penny Heyns of South Africa in the 100 breaststroke -- although she did not break Heyns' world record of 1:06.52.

In the 200 freestyle, the Dutch swimmer threw a ''Hoogie'' into plans of the ''Thorpedo'' for Olympic dominance. Van den Hoogenband, aka Hoogie, upset Australian teen sensation Thorpe, who had to settle for a silver after winning two golds.

The United States had five golds after three days of the eight-day swimming meet.

n BEACH VOLLEYBALL: In barely enough time to break a sweat -- less than 20 minutes -- Americans Rob Heidger and Kevin Wong kept their medal hopes alive with a quick 15-2 victory over France's Jean-Philippe Jodard and Christian Penigaud. The U.S. pair now has a chance to advance to the final 16 with another victory.

n MEN'S GYMNASTICS: The U.S. gymnastic team's 16-year Olympic losing streak was quickly extended for another four years. The Americans finished fifth in the team competition, sending them home with no team medal yet again.

''I'm not going to judge this team's success by anybody else's standards,'' said John Roethlisberger, a three-time Olympian in his last games. ''They're A-1 in my book.''

In the score book, they were No. 5 as the gold medal went to China. Ukraine won the silver medal, and defending gold medalist Russia took the silver.

The Americans have not won a team medal in a non-boycotted Olympics since 1932.

n BASEBALL: The mercy rule was invoked after the top of the seventh, and it couldn't have come soon enough for South Africa. Right-hander Jon Rauch struck out 13 and John Cotton drove in five runs as the unbeaten United States (2-0) won 11-1. Under Olympic rules, a 10-run lead in the seventh or later stops a game.

n WOMEN'S WATER POLO: Maureen O'Toole and the U.S. women have a new Olympic experience to handle -- losing. The home pool advantage, with a raucous local crowd, was too much to overcome as the Australians defeated the Americans 7-6. It was the women's first defeat in Sydney, leaving their record at 2-1-1

The Americans fell to Australia and its raucous home crowd, 7-6 on Tuesday (Monday night EDT), their first water polo defeat at the Sydney Games.

n WEIGHTLIFTING: Mexico has won its first medal of any kind in the Olympic sport of ... weightlifting? Yes. Soraya Jimenez of Mexico won the 127 1/2-pound title by pumping a stunning 281 pounds above her head.

Subscribe to Peninsula Clarion

Trending this week:


© 2018. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us