Japan's Eri Yamada celebrates her team's softball win over Mexico at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Fukushima on Thursday. Photo: AP/Jae C Hong
tokyo 2020 olympics

Japan edges Mexico 3-2; U.S. beats Canada 1-0 in softball

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By Ronald Blum

Mana Atsumi's squeeze bunt single with one out in the eighth inning scored automatic runner Eri Yamada, and host Japan improved to 2-0 with their 3-2 win over Mexico in the Olympic softball event.

Haruka Agatsuma's grounder to second off Danielle O'Toole advanced Yamada to third, and Atsumi bunted on a 0-1 pitch. Yamada was running on the pitch and slid home ahead of Amanda Sanchez's throw.

Mexico, 0-2 at its first Olympics, tied the score 2-2 when Yamada dropped Anissa Urtez's fly to center in the seventh inning for what was ruled a single.

After winning the opener, Yukiko Ueno struck out 10 and took a three-hitter into the seventh but walked Suzannah Brookshire leading off and allowed a single to Victoria Vidales that put runners at the corners for Urtez.

Winner Miu Goto relieved with two on and got three straight outs, then stranded the bases loaded in the eighth when she threw a called third strikeout past Valdes, her fifth strikeout in two innings.

Yamato Fujita homered in the second inning, Urtez tied the score with a home run in the fifth and Agatsuma hit a go-ahead double in the bottom half.

U.S. 1, CANADA 0

Six outs from her second Olympic no-hitter, Monica Abbott was clinging to a one-run lead when she walked Canada's Jen Gilbert leading off the sixth inning, and pinch-hitter Sara Groenewegen lined a 0-2 pitch to the right-center field gap.

Center fielder Haylie McCleney picked up the ball at the wall and fired to Ali Aguilar. The second baseman made a perfect one-hop throw to catcher Aubree Munro, who moved up the third-base line and swiped a tag on sliding pinch-runner Joey Lye for the out.

"It's fun to be on the mound to watch that," Abbott said after her one-hitter led the United States over Canada. "I don't want to give up a hit like that, but, man oh man, it took a lot of confidence in me on our defense."

Amanda Chidester hit an RBI single in the fifth off loser Jenna Caira that scored McCleney, who went 3 for 3 with a walk and has reached base seven times in two games.

Cat Osterman, at age 38 the Americans’ senior player, struck out nine over six innings.

Trying to regain the gold medal it lost to Japan in the 2008 final, the U.S. improved to 2-0. After a day off for the opening ceremony in Tokyo, the tournament shifts to Yokohama on Saturday.

There was a spring training intrasquad feel, a day after many officials attended the opener. The stadium was almost empty because fans were banned due to the coronavirus pandemic. There were 30 media and officials in the stands and approximately a dozen photographers on the field.

"We feel bad that the people of Fukushima were not able to tell their story, that we weren't able to go out into the community to see the story," U.S. coach Ken Eriksen said. "It's really devastating to the people here not to really show the world that Fukushima is back. It's resilient. It's a beautiful place. It's gorgeous. This venue is gorgeous at the base of the mountains."

AUSTRALIA 1, ITALY 0

Australia evened its record to 1-1 with a 1-0 victory over Italy. Jade Wall hit a run-scoring single in the second inning and Kaia Parnaby took a three-hitter into the seventh. Australia is fourth among the six teams after an opening loss to Japan, and Italy fell to 0-2.

Taylah Tsitsikronis doubled off Greta Cecchetti leading off the second, advanced on Tarni Stepto’s groundout and scored on a two-out infield hit by Wall, who beat the throw to first after second baseman Andrea Filler’s diving, backhand stop.

Italy’s Giulia Longhi singled with two outs in the seventh, pinch-runner Fabrizia Marrone stole second and Laura Vigna worked out a nine-pitch walk.

Ellen Roberts, who played college ball for Memphis, made her Olympic debut after Parnaby had thrown 85 pitches, and Marta Gasparotto took a called third strike.

© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.


3 Comments
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hope I can sleep tonight, what with all the excitement..... (´〜`*) zzz

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It was such an exciting day for Softball fans like me. Yukiko Ueno, the Japanese pitcher, is a superstar. If you live in Japan, you are most likely has seen her in TV.

Yukiko Ueno (上野 由岐子) is a Japanese softball pitcher for Biccamera Takasaki and the Japanese national team, who holds a bronze and a gold medal from 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics, respectively. She became the first pitcher ever to produce a perfect game at the Olympics, against China in Athens. With fastball which tops out at 128 km/h (80 mph), she is widely recognized as the fastest pitcher in women's softball. (Wikipedia)

In the game against Mexico, she pitched well but allowed a tying run in the 7th inning (last inning for Softball). She was replaced by a young relief pitcher, Miu Goto, who at the age of seven saw Ueno led the Japanese team to win a gold medal in 2008 Olympic against USA. Goto shutdown threatening Mexican team for two innings, striking out fives, saving her childhood idol and now a teammate Ueno and the team on Ueno's 39th birth day!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Beautiful, wait to Japan defeat the yanks..

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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