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Star-Bulletin Sports

Friday, September 8, 2000


Olympic Rings

HPU scrappy in loss
to Team USA

By Brandon Lee
Special to the Star-Bulletin

Hawaii Pacific University softball coach Howard Okita was hoping his team would make a strong showing against the U.S. Olympic team.

They did, at least for a little while.

The Sea Warriors lost to Team USA, 11-0, at the Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium. The game ended after 4 innings due to the 10-run mercy rule.

Despite the bloated final score, the Sea Warriors held the stacked national team in check through the first three frames.

HPU junior pitcher Jennifer Woodard and her defensive teammates looked sharp at the outset.

Woodard's only trouble in the first three innings came in the bottom of the first with two outs and one run in. Woodard struck out Team USA's Sheila Douty for the apparent third out, but the ball got away from catcher Lauren Okimoto and Douty reached first. The next batter, designated hitter Jennifer Brundage, doubled home two runs for a 3-0 lead.

HPU settled down and got out of the inning without suffering more damage, and she went on to retire the side in order in the second and third.

"It was a real privilege and honor to have the opportunity to get on the field with them," Okita said. "With only two days of practice, we really weren't ready to play any type of ball, but at least this is an experience the girls will have with them the rest of their lives."

Team USA, the defending gold medalist from the 1996 Olympics, has now won its past 110 games.

They're heavy favorites going into this month's Olympics.

Detonation-zero arrived in the bottom of the fourth when Team USA hit the ball hard, but within the confines of the stadium for their final eight runs.

Second baseman and lead-off hitter Dot Richardson opened the floodgates with a two-run single. Brundage also contributed a run-scoring single for a game-high three RBIs.

Woodard surrendered seven hits for seven earned runs before being relieved by freshman walk-on Malia Sullivan with one out in the fourth. Sullivan gave up four hits and four runs before getting out of the inning.

Team USA starter Lori Harrigan and reliever Christa Williams combined on a perfect game, striking out 9 of the 15 batters they faced in the national squad's last game before their first-round matchup with Canada on Sept. 16.

National team veteran Lisa Fernandez, playing third base yesterday but widely recognized as the best pitcher in the world, has her sights firmly set on taking home another gold later this month, but did not leave Hawaii without words of praise for the Sea Warriors.

"They far exceeded my expectation from some of the other Division II teams that we've played in the past, but more importantly they battled," Fernandez said.

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