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Cathi Aradi

Greek Olympic team's unbeaten record should raise eyebrows in Athens

Five years ago, softball wasn't even being played in Greece. 

Now, the host country of the 2004 Summer Olympics seems to be well prepared to field a competitive team in next month's softball competition at the Games. Following two more victories in Germany on Wednesday, the Greek Olympic Softball team has a perfect 19-0 won-lost record on their pre-Olympic tour, which next sees them in action on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (Aug. 2-4). The team will then head to Athens for the athletes to check into the Olympic Village. 

The team won all of their first 11 games of the tour by shutout, gave up two runs in each of the next two games (both against the Dutch National Team), and has recorded five more (non-consecutive) shutouts since (mark is now at 16 of the 19 overall wins by shutout). 

"I'm very happy certainly with the way the tour has gone," said Greek team Head Coach Linda Wells. "I'm thrilled to have gone 19-0 thus far and particularly to have had the shutout streak throughout the entire east coast USA portion of the tour. Thus far (the tour) has allowed us to accomplish many of our goals, such as becoming familiar with one another in travel and competitive situations. Scheduling has been very good, with the 19 games. Now we have practice time and we've identified areas where we need help and this will allow us to improve on those as we prepare to head for Athens." 

She added that, "I'm happy with the players' performance as well as both their interest in meeting the fans and goodwill ambassadorship for Greece and Greek softball. They're very prideful representatives of the country. We're very excited to land home (next week) and defend our home turf at the venue and we look forward to support from the Greek community. It was exciting during the Test Event (in March, when the Greek team won the silver medal) to watch the crowds build as the team was successful, and we're hopeful that the country will support the team." 

The team has been led by the strong pitching of right hander Sarah Farnworth, who led off the tour by pitching a perfect game on July 10 in Staten Island, New York (USA). Eligible to play for Greece at the Games as a great granddaughter of a native born Greek (family name is Katsikaros, from the Greek city of Argilia), the 25-year old has pitched almost 63 innings on the tour so far, posting a 10-0 record, 71 strikeouts, and a 0.23 earned run average (ERA). 

Sarah's sister Jamie and their cousin Stacey are also members of the team. 

Offensively, the contributions have been spread around. Notably, second baseman Vanessa Czarnecki (Styliadis) is hitting .441 in 15 games played, followed by left fielder Lindsay James (Thimis), who is hitting .426 and has stolen a whopping 15 bases in 18 games.