By Charean Williams
BEIJING — Outfielder Jessica Mendoza has a plan to be back in the Olympics in 2012 when softball is off the program.
“Actually,” Mendoza said, “we’re going to come back as a team in handball. The U.S. isn’t very strong in the sport, so our team will transfer to team handball. That will be our reemergence.”
If they don’t laugh, they might cry.
The U.S. has taken its anger and its frustration with the International Olympic Committee out on its opponents. In going 7-0 in round-robin play, the Americans scored 53 runs on 63 hits. Their three pitchers tossed six shutouts, including three no-hitters, allowing only one run on five hits.
Some are blaming that as the reason softball got the ax for the London Games.
The U.S. has won all three gold medals awarded in the sport since it was added to the Olympics in 1996. In Athens four years ago, the Americans outscored opponents 51-1 in going 9-0.
“They’ve talked about domination (as a reason softball is off the Olympic program),” Mendoza said. “Isn’t that what this is about? Why do people praise Michael Phelps for winning eight gold medals, but then they put us down and say that we should lose games? That doesn’t make sense to me.
”The Olympics is about what they’re doing with Michael right now. Like, ’Yes, go for the record. Kick butt.’... I feel like people should be praising us for what we’re doing and not telling us to lose.“
The Americans haven’t lost a game in the Olympics since 2000 when Australia beat them 2-1 in 13 innings, a day after China defeated them 2-0 in 13 innings. Since then, opponents have celebrated just keeping it close.
The U.S. has had four of its past five games ended early by the international run-rule, including Monday’s 9-0 victory over China. The Chinese fans had hoped to see their team pull the upset, like eight years ago, but after lead-off batter Yi Zhou singled off Cat Osterman, the red-and-yellow clad fans had nothing left to cheer.
The Americans scored nine runs with two outs in the bottom of the first, and Osterman and Jennie Finch were almost perfect again as they combined on a one-hitter.
”We’re just looking to put the perfect game on the field and move forward and hope that the IOC sees the great game that softball is,“ said Osterman, a former University of Texas star.
The Americans will play their semifinal Wednesday, with the gold-medal game scheduled for Thursday.
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