Preliminary Round (Pool Play)
U.S. 7, Italy 0 (5 innings)
U.S. 10, Australia 0 (5)
U.S. 3, Japan 0 (8)
U.S. 4, China 0
U.S. 7, Canada 0 (5)
U.S. 7, Greece 0 (5)
U.S. 3, Taiwan 0
U.S. 5, Australia 0
U.S. 5, Australia 1
Perhaps the most dominant team in any sport in Olympic history, the 2004 United States Softball Team earned its nickname: The Real Dream Team.
The American squad included some of the sport’s all-time greats and they dominated play. Of the seven preliminary round games, four were called after five innings because of the mercy rule. The team had just one close game: a 3-0 victory over Japan that required eight innings, though the Japanese mustered just one hit off pitcher Cat Osterman and never threatened to score.
In all, the United States outscored its opponents by a combined 51-1, the only run coming in a 5-1 victory over Australia in the gold-medal game. By that point, Crystl Bustos had hit a two-run home run and a solo homer and Stacey Nuveman had added a solo homer as the U.S. built a 5-0 lead after three innings.
It was an incredible performance, coming on the heels of a 53-0 pre-Olympic tour in which the team outscored opponents by a combined 476 to 14. It was during that tour that Coach Mike Candrea’s wife, Sue, died suddenly from a brain aneurysm just 10 days before the day departed for Athens. The players wore her initials, SC, on their batting helmets in tribute during the Games.
“The love for the game and your country culminates as you take the podium,” pitcher Jessica Mendoza said when looking back at the Olympics 10 years later. “With the gold medal around your neck, our flag being raised and anthem is being played, there is no better feeling in sports.”