Japan, USA, Canada open Tokyo Olympic Softball event with wins

Japan, USA, Canada open Tokyo Olympic Softball event with wins
Softball on Wednesday returned to the Olympic stage for the first time since the Beijing 2008 Games.

Olympic softball made its official comeback today at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium. In the first Olympic softball games since 2008, Japan, USA and Canada took respective victories over Australia, Italy and newcomer Mexico.

After a shaky start, defending Olympic champions Japan used three home runs to defeat Australia, 8-1, in five innings. Minori Naito, Yamato Fujita and Yu Yamamoto all homered. Superstar Yukiko Ueno earned the win allowing one run on two hits in five innings.

"I prepared so much for this Games -- the excitement was too strong, so I tried to contain myself," explained Ueno, who got off to a shaky start. "That led to the cautious pitching in the first. From the second inning onwards, I was able to be more myself and less cautious."


Cat Osterman limited Italy to one hit over six innings, while Monica Abbott struck out the side in the seventh, as the United States began their Olympic tournament with a 2-0 win, outdueling Italian starter Greta Cecchetti. Michelle Moultrie and Janie Reed produced the two runs for the US.

"I think it was really good for us to get a good game under our belt," said USA center fielder Haylie McCleney. "We knew Italy was gonna be scrappy. They’re probably one of the most cohesive groups in this tournament. They play like a family, and we knew they were gonna give us a tough game."


Canada shut out Mexico, 4-0, to end Day 1. Three Canadian pitchers limited Mexico to a couple of hits, with Sara Groenewegen earning the win with four hitless inning. Canada's bat were all over starter Dallas Escobedo, who allowed seven hits, including a home run by Jenn Selling, and five walks in four innings.


Day 2 begins at 9 am local time.