Harding likely to start vs. United States

Updated: August 22, 2004, 12:37 PM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- Kerry Wyborn hit a three-run double and Tanya Harding pitched another shutout as Australia beat Japan 3-0 on Sunday, setting up a rematch with the United States in the gold medal game.

Harding, who didn't start when the Aussies lost 5-0 to the U.S. team in the semifinals earlier on Sunday, blanked Japan on three hits. She's 4-0 and hasn't given up a run in 33 innings in the tournament.

Australia has been outscored 15-0 in its two losses in these games against the Americans, whose eight wins have all been shutouts. The United States beat Australia 10-0 in five innings on Aug. 15, and 5-0 in Sunday's semifinal.

Harding has beaten the U.S. team twice before in Olympic play -- the only pitcher ever to do so. She'll likely start the gold medal game, too. With the win over Japan, the Aussies are guaranteed at least a silver medal after winning bronze in the past two Olympics.

Japan (5-4), which defeated China 1-0 in Sunday's first semifinal, won the bronze medal. Four years ago at Sydney, Japan took silver.

With the score tied 0-0, Simmone Morrow opened the fifth with a single off Juri Takayama and went to third on left fielder Yuki Sato's two-base error. The Aussies (7-2) loaded the bases on a walk and hit batter before Wyborn laced her hit into the gap in left-center.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press