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US 9, Netherlands 0

July 23, 1996

COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) _ For young and old alike, it was another easy night at the Olympics for the U.S. softball team.

Dot Richardson, the oldest member of the squad at age 34, hit a three-run homer Monday and 18-year-old Christa Williams, the youngest player on the team, threw a two-hitter in a 9-0 victory over the Netherlands.

The Americans, gold medal favorites in the new Olympic sport, have outscored their first two opponents 19-0.

Richardson homered in the second straight game, while Williams struck out 10 and walked two, hardly looking like a teen-ager on the Olympic stage. She didn’t allow a runner after the second, retiring 16 of the last 17 batters.

Sheila Cornell also hit a three-run homer for the Americans.

Richardson’s homer capped a five-run second inning. She jumped on a high fastball and sent it some 225 feet over the right-field fence. Dionna Harris, who had three hits, and Michele Smith had RBI hits earlier in the inning.

Cornell’s homer in the fourth followed a double by Dani Tyler and a walk to Kim Maher for an 8-0 lead. The Americans made it 9-0 in the fifth on a wild pitch, but they couldn’t push another across the plate to end the seven-inning game early on the 10-run ``mercy″ rule, as they did Sunday in beating Puerto Rico 10-0.

The Netherlands fell to 0-2 in the eight-team, round-robin tournament.

Williams, a Houston native who will attend UCLA in the fall, was shaky in the first two innings before a sellout crowd of 8,500 at Golden Park, about 120 miles southwest of Atlanta.

In the first, center fielder Laura Berg saved a run with a diving catch of a liner by Petra Beek. In the second, the Netherlands loaded the bases on two hits and a walk, but Williams got Beek again, this time on a strikeout.

America’s competition for the gold is expected to come from China, the only team to beat the Americans in international play since 1986. However, the Chinese were upset by Japan 3-0 in an earlier game Monday.

Also, Australia beat Taiwan 4-0 and Canada defeated Puerto Rico 4-0.

Each team will play seven games before the top four compete July 29 in the semifinals. The medal games are July 30.

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