The US softball team was denied a chance for a fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal today, beaten 3-1 by Japan in the sport's last appearance in the Olympics for at least 8 years. Japanese pitcher Yukiko Ueno shut down an American squad that ruled the sport since its Olympic debut in 1996, handing the US its first loss since 2000, in Sydney.
The US team never led and made two uncharacteristic errors in the seventh inning to help the Japanese add an important insurance run— one they didn't even need. "You don't want it to end this way, but it's all we could do," said slugger Crystl Bustos. The Americans’ dominance was part of the reason the International Olympic Committee decided to drop the sport from future Games. (Read more 2008 Beijing Olympics stories.)