Softball had been around for more than a century before its first appearance at the Atlanta Games. The eight qualifiers for Sydney-Australia, Canada, China, Cuba, Italy, Japan, New Zealand and the U.S.-will play a round robin from which the top four will advance to the semis.
Winners of the last four world titles, the Americans specialize in winning streaks, having won 106 straight games between 1986 and '95. But several teams could cause an upset in Sydney. Australia, the only side to beat the U.S. in Atlanta, will be dangerous, as will Asian champions China and perhaps Cuba.
WHEN TO WATCH
- Final Sept. 26