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Tuesday, September 9
U.S. Olympic softball team selected

Associated Press

Lisa Fernandez, the pitching ace who sealed U.S. softball victories in the previous two Olympics, is among four two-time gold medal winners on the roster for the 2004 Athens Games.

Lisa Fernandez
Two-time Olympic gold medal winner Lisa Fernandez leads a veteran U.S. softball squad headed to Athens.
Fernandez earned a save when the Americans won the inaugural Olympic tournament in Atlanta, and she was the winning pitcher four years later for their second gold in Sydney. Outfielder Laura Berg, pitcher Lori Harrigan and first baseman Leah O'Brien-Amico also played on both championship teams.

Two members of the 2000 team will return for their second Olympics, including catcher Stacey Nuveman, who hit the game-winning homer in the semifinal against China and had a game-tying RBI in the gold medal game against Japan. Third baseman Crystl Bustos is also going for her second Olympic gold medal.

Among the newcomers is pitcher Jennie Finch, a two-time NCAA player of the year who is better known outside of softball as a correspondent for "This Week in Baseball."

She is among four former University of Arizona softball players who made the roster. The others are: O'Brien-Amico, Lovie Jung and Nicole Giordano.

"I was a little stressed," second baseman Jung told The Arizona Daily Star. "I worked hard for the right the last four years, and it's been a long process."

Also making the 18-woman list were: shortstops Jaime Clark and Natasha Watley; outfielders Jessica Mendoza and Kelly Kretschman; outfielder-pitcher Amanda Freed; shortstop-catcher Lauren Lappin; utility player Tairia Mims; left-hander Cat Osterman and catcher Jenny Topping.

Three of the women will be designated as alternates in January to meet the Olympic roster limit.

The U.S. softball team is the undisputed No. 1 team in the world, having won both Olympic gold medals, the past five World Championships and the past five Pan Am Games. In winning its fifth consecutive world title in 2002, the United States earned the top seed for the eight-team tournament in Athens.

The other teams are Japan, Chinese Taipei, China, Australia, Italy, Greece and Canada.

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