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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 August, 2004, 14:01 GMT 15:01 UK
US to face Aussies in final
USA star pitcher Lisa Fernandez
America moved closer to a third consecutive Olympic softball gold medal after a 5-0 victory over Australia.

But they will have to repeat that success on Monday as the Australians beat Japan 3-0 to secure their place in the Grand Final gold medal showdown.

Japan's defeat means the Sydney silver medallists must make do with the bronze medal this time around.

Asked who would pitch for the US, head coach Mike Candrea said: "We've got everyone ready."

Lisa Fernandez, who is chasing her third gold, certainly made a strong case when she pitched a three-hitter in America's first-tier semi-final against Australia.

Crystl Bustos drove in two runs for the US, while Kelly Kretschman hit a solo home-run in the sixth to put them well in control of the match.

Reika Utsugi scored in the extra innings to give Japan a tense 1-0 win over China in their second tier semi-final - which won them the right to play Australia for the bronze.

In that play-off, Australia erupted in the top of the fifth innings when Kerry Wyborn doubled for three runs when the bases were loaded starting with a triple by Simmone Morrow.

Japan struggled back in the bottom of the seventh innings with Masui Mishina's one-out double.

But Yumi Iwabuchi and pinch hitter Naoko Sakamoto both smacked easy ground outs.

"Right now we are running on adrenalin and that is what we will be going on Monday. We have got nothing to lose now," Australia's winning pitcher Tanya Harding.

"The US have some pretty good hitters so I have to make sure I will have a pretty controlled game," she said.

"I want to keep it tight on the corners and not let the ball get over the plate."





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