Friday, March 28, 2008

Pitcher Lisa Fernandez, a three-time gold medalist, left off U.S.

AP Sports Writer

Lisa Fernandez, a three-time Olympic champion and perhaps
softball’s signature star for more than a decade, did not make the
U.S. team’s final 15-player roster for the Beijing Games.

“It’s like Michael Jordan getting cut from the basketball
team,” said catcher Stacey Nuveman.

The 37-year-old Fernandez was named a replacement player on the
American team, which will attempt to win its fourth straight gold
medal this summer. Fernandez was on the mound when the U.S. team
won gold in Athens, completing a historic run through the
tournament in which the Americans outscored the competition 51-1.

Fernandez was also the starting pitcher when the U.S. won it all
in Sydney in 2000. Four years earlier, she came in as a reliever
when the Americans cinched gold in Atlanta.

“I have no regrets,” Fernandez said. “I know I gave it
everything I had. There wasn’t a corner cut or a practice missed. I
just ran out of time. To me, the most important thing is that I
know I gave it everything I had. But there were certain things I
couldn’t control.”

She was making a comeback after missing three years of
international competition to start a family, and never quite got
back to form.

“I was really hoping she would get close to where she was in
2004,” said U.S. coach Mike Candrea. “She is still in my eyes the
best player who has ever played this game. I wanted her to go out
on top.”

Candrea kept only three pitchers: returning gold medalists
Jennie Finch and Cat Osterman, as well as first-time Olympian
Monica Abbott. Alicia Hollowell, a hard-throwing right-hander who
played for Candrea at Arizona, also was named a replacement player.

Candrea will only make changes to his roster if there are
injuries. He must submit it to the U.S. Olympic Committee for final
approval by July 1

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