Akron tests Olympic softball team

AKRON (AP) — The U.S. Olympic softball team needed a tough test before leaving for China. Angela Tincher and her teammates made sure they got one.

Tincher, the Virginia Tech star who pitched a no-hitter against the world’s best team in March, gave up just one run in her three innings but the U.S. warmed up for its gold-medal run in Beijing by rallying for a 6-2 win over the Akron Racers on Tuesday night before an overflow crowd of more than 6,000 fans.

Kelly Kretschman snapped a 2-2 tie by driving in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning and Andrea Duran followed with a three-run homer off reliever Jamee Juarez as the U.S. improved to 57-1 on its “Bound 4 Beijing” tour. That lone loss came on March 26 at the hands of Tincher, who dominated the three-time defending gold medalists for seven innings, a performance that ended the U.S. team’s 185-game winning streak in pre-Olympic exhibitions.

Tincher went seven innings back then, but a long season limited her to just 59 pitches.

“I wish I could have pitched more,” said Tincher, who failed to make the U.S. roster during tryouts last September. “But this was fun just having a lead early against a team like this. I was happy with three innings.”

For Tincher, it’s about as close as she may ever get to the Olympics. Because the International Olympic Committee voted softball off the 2012 program for London, Tincher and other top players may never get a chance to represent their country on the sport’s biggest stage. The IOC will vote next year on putting softball back in the games for 2016.

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