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Last Updated: Monday, 23 August, 2004, 15:45 GMT 16:45 UK
US win third softball gold
USA star pitcher Lisa Fernandez
The United States thumped Australia 5-1 to ease to their third successive gold medal in softball on Monday.

Lisa Fernandez pitched a four-hitter and Crystl Bustos homered twice as the American side beat their opponents for the third time in a week.

But Australia gained some consolation by ending the defending champions' shut-out streak during the tournament as well as sealing the silver medal.

Japan settled for the bronze in the eight-nation competition.

The gold medal was especially poignant for the Americans who had overcome the recent death of coach Mike Candrea's wife Sue.

She had been touring with the team as they built up to the Games when she was suddenly taken ill and died.

She used to cook meals and arrange travel for the team and Candrea said: "The players really helped me get through the hard times.

"I thanked them all for the greatest moment of my life."

The players wore wristbands and carried Sue's initials on their uniforms and one player Leah Amico said: "We just wanted nothing more than to do this and have Sue be a part of it."

The United States finished unbeaten in nine games in Athens and outscored the field 51-1.

The only blemish was missing out on a tournament-long shut-out by just four outs as the pitchers gave up their first run in 54 2-3 innings.

But they still completed a comfortable three-game sweep of the silver medallists, who earlier lost 10-0 to the United States in a preliminary match and 5-0 in the medal round.

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