Host City: Atlanta, United States
Venue(s): Golden Ball Park, Columbus, Georgia
Date Started: July 21, 1996
Date Finished: July 30, 1996
Format: Round-robin tournament, with the top four teams progressing to the semi-finals.
World championships in softball for women were first held in 1966, but it took another 30 years for the sport to make the Olympic program. With the Olympics in Atlanta, the United States had home-field advantage, although they hardly needed it, having won 106 consecutive games internationally from 1986-1995, and all but one World Championship dating back to 1970. The consecutive game streak ended when a Chinese team defeated them in a preliminary game at the Superball Classic. The Olympic tournament came down to the same two teams, China facing the United States for the gold medal. The USA won, 3-1, but not without controversy. In the 3rd inning, the Chinese tried a double steal with runners on 1st and 3rd. The umpire called Zhang Chunfang out at home plate, though the call was very close. In the bottom of the inning, shortstop Dot Richardson hit a two-run homer that sliced down the right-field line. The Chinese manager, Li Minkuan, protested for 10 minutes that the ball was foul, but replays confirmed the umpire’s call.