U.S. pitching staff stands tall at World Cup
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The organizers of the modern Olympics may have been thinking more of altitude than height in crafting the second part of the motto "faster, higher, stronger," but faster, taller, stronger might be good enough for American gold in softball.Building toward next year's Olympics in Beijing, the last in which softball will be contested, the U.S. national team captured the title at the World Cup of Softball by beating familiar foe Japan 3-0 at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. And as much as the team's offense sprayed the ball all over the park for six games in the tournament, scoring a total of 40 runs and run-ruling opponents four times, it was the pitching that stood tallest, both figuratively on a nearly perfect stat sheet and literally each time imposing hurlers Jennie Finch, Cat Osterman, Monica Abbott and Alicia Hollowell took the circle. Each of the top four pitchers for the United States stands at least 6-foot-1, with Abbott claiming top honors at 6-foot-3. Even if you discard the former Tennessee ace, the remaining three are the same heights as the starting frontcourt the United States women's basketball senior national team sent out for last year's World Championships. By way of comparison, no other team in Oklahoma City had even one pitcher taller than six feet. University of Arizona star Taryne Mowatt offered the most recent reminder that a pitcher doesn't have to be tall to be great, and Japanese ace Yukiko Ueno -- who wasn't with her team at the World Cup for undisclosed reasons that most assumed involved wanting to hide her from the Americans until the Olympics -- isn't a giant by any means. But height offers advantages that go beyond releasing the ball a few inches closer to the plate.
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