Honolulu, HI -- Team USA found the long-lost long ball and got solid pitching as it blanked Australia 3-0 Saturday at the U.S. Cup at University of Hawaii's Wahine Softball Stadium. USA Softball concluded the round-robin portion of the tournament as the only unbeaten team, posting a 3-0 mark, while Australia is in the exact opposite situation, as it is the only team to exit the round-robin without a win at 0-3.

The United States will face China in Sunday's gold medal game, which is scheduled for 9 p.m. (EST). Australia will challenge Japan in the bronze medal game, which starts at 7 p.m. (EST).

Tairia Mims (Tucson, AZ) and Jessica Mendoza (Camarillo, CA) both hit solo home runs as the U.S. offense posted eight hits. Mims alone was responsible for three of those hits, as she also singled in the second and sixth innings.

Mims' second-inning single eventually led to the game's first run, as she moved to second on an error in the outfield on her hit and later scored on single back up the middle from Lizzy Lemire (Irvine, CA).

Amanda Freed (Cypress, CA) pitched a complete game for USA Softball, allowing three hits while striking out 12 and walking one. Two of the hits she allowed came in the first, singles to Kerry Wyborn -- who had two hits on the day -- and Natalie Ward. Freed settled down tremendously after the initial frame, setting the side down in order four of the next six innings, including retiring the game's final 10 batters. She closed out the game by striking out the final five batters she faced.

Australia's starting pitcher, Zara Mee, struck out the first four U.S. batters of the game before Mims started the second inning scoring rush. Mee, saddled with the loss, worked the game's first three innings, allowing five hits and one run while striking out six, before giving way to Kelly Gentle. Gentle closed out the final three innings, giving up three hits and two runs while striking out five.

Mims hit her home run to left field in the fourth to make the lead 2-0, while Mendoza roped her shot to center field in the fifth inning. For the U.S., it was the first home runs of the tournament.

Other players collecting hits for the U.S. were Natasha Watley (Irvine, CA), Nicole Giordano (Saugus, CA) and Lindsey Collins (Fountain Valley, CA).

China downs Japan to advance to gold medal game

Honolulu, HI -- Zhang Lixia, Team China's pitcher, dominated Japan for six innings and then withstood a valiant final-inning Team Japan surge to guide her team to a 1-0 victory Saturday at the 2001 U.S. Cup. The win puts China at 2-1 in the tournament and vaults it in Sunday's gold medal game, where it will face the United States at 9 p.m. (EST). Japan, 1-2 at the event, will face Australia in the bronze medal game, which begins at 7 p.m. (EST).

Trailing 1-0, after China finally broke a scoreless tie in the top of the seventh, Japan loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the seventh before Lixia and her supporting defensive cast set down the next three batters. Singles from Kazue Ito and Miyo Yamada, sandwiched around a walk to Naomi Arai, set up the loaded bases for Japan.

China, which had runners in scoring position in the second, third and fourth innings, finally pushed a run across the plate during its final regulation at-bat, and two Japan errors aided greatly in that run being generated. A routine fly ball to right field off the bat of Tao Hua was dropped, and Hua eventually scored from second on another error, this one a mis-handled ball in center field on a single from Chen Jianwen. Wei Qiang, Tao Hua and Ye Xiaone had the other hits for China, while Satoko Mabuchi had the other hit for Japan.

Prior to the final frame, Lixia had no problem holding Japan in check, as she held them hitless until the fourth inning. Lixia's line for the game ended up being three hits allowed, with two walks and eight strikeouts. Juri Maede, who also pitched a complete game, got the loss for China, scattering four hits, with one walk and eight strikeouts.

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