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Sato's homer paces Japan softball team to 3-0 victory over China
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14:18, August 16, 2008

The world No. 2 ranked Japanese softball team showed its supremacy here on Saturday as they whitewashed the host China 3-0 at the Beijing Olympic Games.

Rie Sato's three-run homer gifted the Japanese the fourth victory of the tournament and dashed China's medal dream.

"We have no chances now after this game. I want to say sorry to the people supporting us. But we will fight till the last inning in the final two games," said a heart-struck Yu Yanhong, China's first baseman who will retire after the Beijing Games.

The morning's clash between the top two Asian squads was pivotal for both sides to continue on course to the medal podium.

Japan's ace hurler Yukiko Ueno made her first start of the tournament, aiming to suppress Chinese batters with her thrilling speed. Ueno's pitch is known as one of the fastest in the world and has been recorded as being as fast as 177km/h.

The Japanese jumped in front early in the top of third inning when Rie Sato delivered a three-run homer to take a 3-0 lead.

China had to replace their starter Lu Wei with lefty reliefer Li Qi onto the circle in the fourth inning.

Li took good care of the following innings. She retired four batters and allowed only one hit but no runs.

From the plate, China contributed six hits in the whole game, bettering the opponent with four, yet no runs were put across home plate by Chinese desperate batters.

China's head coach Wang Lihong still praised her heartbroken girls after the game.

"Although we lost the game, we did a very job today, especially in front of their best pitcher Ueno.

"Six hits is also the best results we have achieved in the past battles with this pitcher. We just fail to make runs. It's a pity," said Wang.

With a won-lost record of 2-3, China will face Chinese Taipei on Sunday and meet the undefeated USA one day later.

Even if China could achieve two straight wins in miracle, the fate is not in her hands.

"No matter what the result is, we will fight to the end. This is our last show in Olympic arena and we will cherish every inning in each game." said China's center fielder Zhou Yi.

The eight teams now are competing in a round-robin format at the preliminaries and only the top four winners will contest for medals in the page system. The United States, Japan, Canada and Australia now lead the standings.

Source:Xinhua

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1 China 25 9 5 39
2 USA 14 12 18 44
3 Germany 8 2 4 14
4 South Korea 6 8 3 17
5 Italy 6 4 3 13
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