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China Defeats Australia 8-3 In U.S. Cup Opener

Honolulu, HI -- China defeated Australia 8-3 Thursday afternoon to open up the 2001 U.S. Cup at the University of Hawaii Wahine Softball Stadium.

China took advantage of some shaky pitching in the fifth and sixth innings to open up an 8-0 lead, but Australia returned the favor by doing the same thing in top of the seventh to make the game interesting.

Tao Hua hit a two-out home run to left-centerfield to open the scoring for China in the bottom of the second, and the squad added another run in the fourth and three each in the fifth and sixth. Hua ended up with two hits for China and also scored two runs.

China's run in the fourth came after Ou Jingbai singled up the middle, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and came home on a single through the left side from Xu Jian.The bottom of the fifth and sixth was a folly of walks, wild pitches and errors, as China tacked on a total of six more runs to put the game away.

Australia pitcher Brooke Wilkens, who was saddled with the loss, came in to relieve starter Kelly Hardie at the top of the fifth frame, and promptly walked the first three batters she faced. Wilkens also let loose with four wild pitches that allowed the first run of the inning to score. A throwing error from third also compounded the problem for Australia, as it allowed two more runs crossed the plate.

In the sixth, Wilkens' woes continued, as she walked the first two batters and mixed in three more wild pitches to plate another run before being replaced by Zara Mee. Mee was able to get two outs before China scored its final two runs on a double-steal of second and home and an RBI-single to third base.

China's starter Zhang Yanquing, who picked up the win, was pulled after retiring the lead-off batter in the seventh, and reliever Zhang Lixia then surrendered three hits in a row to allow Australia to make a run at getting back into the game. Yanquing finished the day with four hits in 6.1 innings, with two walks and 10 strikeouts.

Kerry Wyborn, who doubled to start the run for Australia, scored on a single from Alisa Denne to break the drought, and Denne later scored after singles from Danica Howlett and Sally McCreedy. McCreedy, who also doubled in the sixth inning, finished the game with two hits, as did teammate Simmone Morrow. Australia's final run came when Howlett scored a wild pitch.

Australia's next game is against Japan at 9 p.m. (EST) Friday, June 22, with China facing the United States at 11 p.m.