Tokyo 2020: Japan, USA stay undefeated as Olympic Softball Day 2 features all one-run games

Tokyo 2020: Japan, USA stay undefeated as Olympic Softball Day 2 features all one-run games
22/07/2021
All three contests on on Day 2 were one-run games. Australia earned their first in the tournament.

Day 2 of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Softball tournament featured three closely contested, one-run games, highlighting the international growth that the sport of softball has undergone over the last decade.

“If you look at today’s scores, they were quite close," Australia head coach Laing Harrow said. "I would like to see more runs on the board. I guess it just shows the quality of pitchers we have in the competition. They are world-class, and hitting is not easy against them."

After two days of competition, Japan and the United States remain unbeaten, while Australia picked up their first win. Italy and Mexico are still looking for their first wins.

Monica Abbott went the distance, allowing only one hit as the United States defeated Mexico, 1-0. After leaving five runners on base in the first two innings, the US scored the winning run in the fifth on a base hit by designated player Amanda Chidester off Canada's starter Sara Groenewegen.

"It was a lot of fun to be out there. I felt really good in my first Olympic start," said Monica Abbott. "USA and Canada have had a lot of good games, so they know us well. I just wanted to come out and give our team the best chance to win. I just wanted to attack there when there was an opportunity to get a strike. They swing the bat well, so I thought, let them swing."

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Legendary pitcher Yukiko Ueno had to go through struggles before she could celebrate her 39th birthday. Japan beat Mexico, 3-2, squeezing in the winning run in the eighth. Mexico's Anissa Urtez homered in the fifth and hit an RBI single in the seventh off Ueno. Miu Goto earned the win for Japan, closing the seventh and pitching a scoreless eighth.

"Ueno set up a really great game for me," commented Miu Goto, "so I just did my best. And I trust other members to do their job very well, so I could pitch with confidence."

Japan's head coach Reika Utsugi made the difficult decision to send in 20-year old Goto.
"We had to win this game. It was essential. And about Goto, I know it is hard putting her in at that point. I don’t even have to praise her, and I think they already know how well she did today."

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Kaia Parnaby outdueled Greta Cecchetti, as Australia shut down Italy, 1-0, earning their first win in the Olympic tournament. Australia scored the winning run in the second on a two-out infield hit by Jade Wall. Ellen Roberts struck out Marta Gasparotto, with two runners on base, to end the bottom of the seventh and earn the save.

"As a pitcher, I like to let my defence do the work," said Parnaby. "I think today I used all my stuff, and my defence had my back today. I think we had a really good outing."

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Day 3 of the Olympic Softball tournament will open at 10 local time at the Yokohama Stadium on Saturday, 24 July, which features Australia-Canada, USA-Mexico and Japan-Italy.