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Friday, June 20, 2003



[ SOFTBALL ]



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KEN IGE / KIGE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Team USA pitcher Jennie Finch struck out 11 and gave up one hit to beat Hellas of Greece yesterday at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.



Americans wake up
to win big over team
from Greece

Team USA beats an inexperienced
Greece team on the first day
of the U.S. Cup tourney


It was a mismatch before the first pitch.

A country that is the world's best against a country that didn't play softball before 1997.

Team USA is the defending world champion and has won every Olympic gold medal since softball became an Olympic sport. Hellas, the official name for Greece, is a team put together by Arizona State head coach Linda Wells. It practiced five times at a camp in Florida in January, had all its players together for the first time during the flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu and practiced twice this week.

There was nowhere, on the field or on paper, that the U.S. vs. Hellas would be fair. But for two innings the game was close, until the U.S. bats awoke to terrorize Hellas' pitching. Before a crowd of 471 at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium, the U.S. crushed Hellas 11-1 yesterday. The game ended after the sixth inning because of the 10-run rule.

Despite the score, Wells was pleased with the first two games of international competition for Hellas (0-2). Wells had no expectations for the first day after undergoing an extensive process of travel, video tape review, and recruitment in assembling the Hellas team comprised of two players with Greek citizenship (Joanna Bouziou and Katerina Koutougkou), and 14 others with Greek ancestry and dual citizenship.

"It exceeded my expectations," Wells said. "I was shocked that we would be on the field for the entire game against the U.S. I know what a strong team they are, as all of the teams are. ... If the Greek federation people were here, they would be happy with our team."

Like Wells, Koutougkou wasn't discouraged by her team's performance.

"It's great to be here and to participate" said Koutougkou, who has played softball for two-and-a-half years. "We competed hard against a team that played softball for so many years. We did a great job for the first time we're competing at an international level."

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KEN IGE / KIGE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Team USA third baseman Crystl Bustos was congratulated by teammates after hitting a home run against Hellas last night.



It wasn't the first international competition for the U.S., but it was the first time this team was playing together after being selected two weeks ago. The talent of the U.S.'s Olympians and collegiate All-Americans would be enough until team chemistry is found.

After a shaky first inning with two errors, the defending U.S. Cup champions would stabilize defensively and overpower Hellas with their bats. The U.S. pounded 14 hits off Sarah Farnworth and Kristen Karanzias.

Crystl Bustos homered in the fifth for a two-run shot. Tairia Mims and Jamie Clark opened the sixth inning by clearing back-to-back monstrous home runs over center field that would push the score to 7-1. Four batters later and the game was over.

U.S. pitcher Jennie Finch showed off her stuff too, striking out 11 and giving up just one hit for the victory.

The U.S. also beat Chinese Taipei in the late game.

The competition resumes today with the U.S. in the opener at 11:30 a.m. vs. Greece. Chinese Taipei follows at 2 p.m. against Canada and plays Greece at 4:30 p.m. Team USA closes out the day against Canada at 7 p.m.

Notes: UH athletic director Herman Frazier tossed the first pitch of team USA's game. The pitch rolled into the dirt and halfway to the plate. ... Stacey Farnworth-Katsikaris, Sarah Farnworth and Jamie Farnworth are part of Greece's Big Fat Greek Softball team. Jamie and Sarah are sisters while cousin Stacey played for Wells at ASU. The parents of the Farnworths have a double-connection as the mothers are sisters and the fathers are brothers. ... Also on the roster are sisters Lindsey and Jessica Bashor, who played softball with the Farnworths while growing up.

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