China routed South Africa 12-0 yesterday at the ISF Women's
Softball World Championships in Beijing, leaving them full of
confidence as they head into their showdown with the mighty
With seven world titles and three Olympic gold medals, USA have
always been the team to beat in world softball. They remained
dominant at the championships by thrashing New Zealand 15-0
yesterday, their fourth shutout in five matches,
However the 12-0 thrashing of inexperienced South Africa,
keeping China unbeaten in the tournament so far, left Head Coach
Michael Bastian upbeat about tonight's clash.
"I think our team is at the highest competitive level they have
been played at during the last two years," he said.
"We will go out and will battle the best we can."
"This tournament is basically two halves for us," he continued.
"The first half was the first five games and now the real big games
Thanks to the uneven schedule, China has not met a real
challenge so far. They dominated the games with Britain, New
Zealand and South Africa, winning 10-0, 6-0 and 12-0 respectively.
Only Italy and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea were able
to give them trouble, but not enough to stop the home team from
China has only beaten the USA once in major international
competitions since 2000. They defeated them 2-0 in the
round-of-robin stage at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, but later
lost to them 3-0 in the semi-finals. USA went on to win gold.
They also have another painful memory -- losing 3-1 in a tight
gold medal match at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.
"We are nervous when playing the USA because they are very
strong," said China's veteran batter Yu Yanhong.
However, coach Bastian was confident that the pressure would
bring the best out of his developing team.
"My job is teach them not to be afraid," he said.
"We are going through the process and are starting to believe in
Bastian, a former coach with the US team, was hired by China at
the end of 2005 after holding softball clinics in Kunming, Yunnan
Province. He had to quit his position at US Softball to take the
"I am happy that I changed my life to come here, and I am
expecting a whole bunch from the team," he said.
"I am trying to raise the bar every day. I have high
The coach also hopes his knowledge of the opposition will help
After the USA, China will face another test by playing Canada,
whose only loss in the tournament came against the USA. The game is
significant because the winner will go straight into a medal
"It's important for us to finish first or second in the pool,"
Bastian said. "We've got ourselves into a good position and we just
have to get the job done."
(China Daily September 1, 2006)