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Cat Osterman

Cat Osterman

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Updated: July 19, 2009, 12:16 AM ETU.S.

avenges Olympic loss to JapanComment Email Print Share Associated PressOKLAHOMA CITY -- No matter what happens now, the U.S.

softball team can never get back the gold medal it lost in Beijing.

But for one night, beating rival Japan sure felt good.Alissa Haber and Andrea Duran homered as the United States exacted a measure of revenge for its loss in the Olympic gold medal game, defeating Japan 6-1 Saturday night at the World Cup of Softball."It's always good to beat them.

It's definitely sweet right now," said left-hander Cat Osterman, who struck out 13 in a four-hitter.

"We're not taking it as we just beat the same team we saw in Beijing, but it's always nice to win."The stakes weren't nearly as high in the rematch, and many of the faces were different, too.Seven U.S.

players retired following the Beijing Games, and Japan has had its fair share of roster turnover, too.

Most notably, ace Yukiko Ueno -- who has beaten the Americans five times in the last four years -- didn't accompany her team to the World Cup.If anything, the game was a chance for the next generation of American softball stars to make their mark in the rivalry."For the young kids, I think it gives them a taste of what the rivalry is like.

For the old kids, obviously a little bit of a sweet redemption to some extent," first-year U.S.

coach Jay Miller said.

"But also, we've got to keep it in perspective because it doesn't mean anything."Still, there was plenty of emotion.

Osterman (1-0), who lost the gold medal game, pumped her left fist after striking out Rei Nishiyama to end the game.The U.S.

(4-0) still hasn't sealed a spot in Monday night's championship game and will have to beat Australia on Sunday to ensure that.Haber smashed the first pitch thrown by reliever Naho Emoto (0-2) the opposite way over the left-field wall to put the U.S.

ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning.

As lightning from an approaching storm could be seen in the distance, Duran added a two-run blast later in the inning to extend the lead.Duran said she took one strike because she was distracted by the lightning."It totally froze me," Duran said.

"Honestly, I was just like, 'I need to get this at-bat over with.'"Without Ueno, Japan (1-2) used four pitchers.

Starter Mika Someya and Makiko Fujiwara combined to strand four U.S.

runners in scoring position in the first three innings before the Americans finally broke through in the fourth.Pinch-runner Chelsea Bramlett raced in to score the game's first run on Ashley Charters' chopper just in front of home plate, diving in head first to beat the tag of catcher Maki Tanigawa.But the Japanese rallied right back to tie it in the fifth on Rei Nishiyama's sacrifice fly.That set the stage for Haber, one of 10 rookies on the U.S.

roster.

She came through with her third extra-base hit in 15 games with the U.S.

team.

She later added an RBI single and scored on Jenae Leles' grounder."Even though I wasn't on the [Olympic] team and I didn't even experience it, I still felt the pain," Haber said.After Duran's homer, the teams were taken off the field for a 53-minute weather delay, and the capacity crowd of 6,196 was asked to leave the seating area to avoid the risk of lightning.U.S.

slams CanadaNatasha Watley hit a grand slam, and Duran and Leles also homered as the U.S.

piled up its most lopsided victory against its northern rival.The Americans jumped on starter Leah MacIntosh (0-1) for five runs in the first and added nine more in the third -- all 14 runs coming with two outs.

The game ended because of the mercy rule following Ashley Hansen's RBI single in the bottom of the fourth.The Americans eclipsed their 14-1 victory at the 1991 Pan-American Games for the largest margin in the series.After back-to-back RBI singles by Jennie Finch and Leles, Duran broke the game open by smacking a three-run homer the left-center field fence.Monica Abbott (1-0) struck out seven and allowed two singles.Canada rallies past ItalyJennifer Yee homered and Jennifer Caira threw six strong innings in relief as Canada overcame a three-run deficit.Italy had a 3-0 lead in the first inning when the game was suspended Thursday night due to an approaching storm, but the Canadians took control after play resumed Saturday morning.Sheena Lawrick tied it with an RBI triple in the bottom of the third and scored on Evelyne Pare's single to make it 4-3.Yee added a solo shot in the fourth inning.

Caira (2-0) allowed two hits and one unearned run.Kate Gentile hit a three-run homer for Italy (0-4), which is playing in its first World Cup.Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

http://sports.espn.go.com/oly/news/story?id=4339041
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