Harrigan helps U.S. extend shutout streak
ATHENS, Greece -- Lori Harrigan's eyes got teary with nearly the speed of one of her fastballs when reminded that these Olympics -- her third games -- will be her last.
"It's hard to let go," she said.
But before the flame is extinguished, Harrigan is savoring it all: the Olympic Village, the bus rides, the U.S. victories.
On Tuesday, she gave the two-time defending gold medalists another one to remember.
Using her full repertoire of pitches, Harrigan tossed a one-hitter and Crystl Bustos broke out of her Grecian slump with a home run as the Americans posted their fourth straight shutout, 4-0 over China.
Lovieanne Jung had a two-run single and Leah O'Brien-Amico hit an RBI double as the United States (4-0) moved a win closer to locking up a spot in the semifinals. They could do that with a win over Canada today.
Although the U.S. team entered as the favorite to win a third gold, nobody thought the Americans might pitch a tournament-long shutout. But Harrigan, Lisa Fernandez, Jennie Finch and Cat Osterman have fired blanks at the field so far. The U.S. team has outscored its first four opponents 24-0.
"They sure make my job easy," said catcher Jenny Topping. "When I call a pitch, they're going to put it where I want it to go."
With its victory over China (2-2), the United States extended its winning streak to 74 games and improved its international record against China to 10-1.
Harrigan struck out eight and allowed just two batters to reach base. She used her fastball, curveball, screwball, drop and rise on the overmatched Chinese.
"She had her full arsenal," said Topping, who added two hits. "She couldn't miss with a pitch."
Bustos, considered the world's best power hitter, connected for her first homer of the games in the fifth inning to put the United States ahead 4-0. The stout Californian had been 1-for-10 before pulling a pitch from Li Qi over the 220-foot wall in left.
As she left the batter's box, Bustos did a Sammy Sosa-like hop.
"That was awesome," Bustos said. "I've been struggling."
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