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U.S. opens with 2-0 Olympics softball win

Japan's Minori Naito, center, celebrates with her teammates after hitting a two run home run...
Japan's Minori Naito, center, celebrates with her teammates after hitting a two run home run during the softball game between Japan and Australia at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, July 21, 2021, in Fukushima, Japan.(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 8:16 AM CDT
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TOKYO (KCBD) - It was a win 13 years in the making, especially for Cat Osterman and Monica Abbott. The sport made its first Olympic appearance since 2008.

Two pitchers held Italy for a 2-0 victory.

Osterman, the 38-year-old softball veteran, recorded nine strikeouts in six innings on the mound.  Her 2008 teammate Monica Abbot recorded the save and retired three more Italian batters to close the low-scoring contest. 

Unlike baseball, softball games end after seven innings unless extra play is needed.

“Even though we weren’t getting hits, we were having good at-bats,” Osterman said in an interview with NBCSN’s Jessica Mendoza.  “So not matter what, we knew we were chipping away, and then eventually we find some holes and get some hits and string things together.”

In the bottom of the fourth inning, outfielder Michelle Moultrie fired a single shot to right. That sent Valerie Arioto home from second base, giving the U.S. a 1-0 lead.  During the next inning, the U.S. women started to find their way to the bases. 

Catcher Aubree Munro came home after Janie Reed popped a sacrifice fly to centerfield, doubling the team’s lead. 

“There wasn’t a panic moment. We didn’t hit the panic button too early,” Osterman said. “I though we just did a really good job of just staying present, getting things going, and the goal is just to build from it.”

The team returns to the field 7 p.m. CST (9 a.m. Thursday Japanese Standard Time) Wednesday to face off against Canada.  The United States women are looking to exact Olympic revenge on host nation Japan, who denied them a gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Games with a 3-1 win.  That rematch is scheduled for 7 p.m. CST Sunday.

Softball competition at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is held at Fukushima, the same site where an earthquake in 2011 occurred, resulting in 19,747 deaths.  While the Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium was selected as the host site for softball years ago, it was chosen as a symbol of hope for Japan.

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