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September 23, 2000 

Canada loses 1-0 to China in Olympic softball

 BLACKTOWN, Australia (CP-AP) -- Canada dropped to 1-6 in the Olympic softball tournament after a 1-0 loss to China on Saturday.

 Yan Fang had two hits and scored the only run as China raised its record to 5-2. Zhang Yanqing struck out nine and allowed just two hits as Canada joined Cuba (1-6) in failing to make the medal round.

 Canada, which lost five times by a run, finishes last in the eight-team tournament.

 "We haven't been lucky at these games," said third baseman Nathalie Fradette of Boucherville, Que. "We fought well against the good teams, and lost against the teams we should have beat. We are a better team than eighth place."

 Cherene Hiesl-Boyer of Newmarket, Ont., and Jackie Lance of Grance Prairie, Alta., had the lone Canadian hits.

 Winnipeg's Sandy Newsham gave up just three hits, striking out six and walking two.

 Earlier, Melanie Roche and Brooke Wilkins combined on a no-hitter to beat Cuba 8-1 to lead Australia into the medal round.

 Roche struck out nine in four innings and Wilkins fanned six for Australia (6-1), which is guaranteed at least a bronze medal.

 The hosts will play Japan, the only team to beat them in the preliminaries, in the second semifinal Monday for a chance at the title.

 "I'm happy to have another game with them," Australia coach Bob Crudgington said.

 The Australia-Japan loser plays the winner of the other semifinal for the other berth in the gold medal game.

 China has already clinched a berth in the other semifinal. The United States (3-3), defending champions and the heavy favourites going in, needed to beat Italy (2-4) later Saturday to clinch the final berth.

 "We consider it the four best teams remaining," Crudgington said. "It's a whole new tournament."

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