Olympic Softball 2021 Day 1 Results: Team USA Opens Play With Win vs. Italy

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJuly 21, 2021

United States' Cat Osterman pitches during the softball game between Italy and the United States at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, July 21, 2021, in Fukushima , Japan. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Softball has made its return to the Olympics after a 13-year hiatus.

The sport even kicked off the athletic competition at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, with host country Japan taking on Australia to begin the round-robin group stage.

Six teams are in the Olympic competition: Japan, Australia, the United States, Italy, Mexico and Canada. A round-robin is underway, with each team facing the others one time apiece.

The top two teams will play each other in a gold-medal game, while the third- and fourth-place teams will battle for the bronze medal.

As for Day 1 of the festivities, Japan, which won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, earned a 8-1 mercy-rule victory over Australia.

The United States, which fell to Japan in the 2008 gold-medal game, followed up the host's win with a 2-0 victory over Italy.

Canada, which has never medaled in Olympic softball, beat Mexico 4-0 as well.

Here's a recap of all three games alongside some highlights.

Japan 8, Australia 1

Fujita Yamato, Naito Minori and Yamamoto Yu hit home runs as Japan defeated Australia 8-1.

Starting pitcher Ueno Yukiko, who won gold for Japan at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, earned the win. She and Goto Miu allowed just two hits over five innings.

Australia had a chance to break this game open in the first inning, loading the bases and scoring one on a hit-by-pitch with one out. Ueno limited the damage to one run, however, getting the last two outs.

Yamamoto evened the game with an RBI single in the first.

Naito plated the go-ahead run after smacking a two-run homer:

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

The first home run of the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TokyoOlympics?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TokyoOlympics</a> belongs to the host nation, Japan πŸ‡―πŸ‡΅<br><br>πŸ“Ί NBCSN<br>πŸ’» <a href="https://t.co/DAJ1HTV40X">https://t.co/DAJ1HTV40X</a><br>πŸ“± NBC Sports App <a href="https://t.co/L5W3Ezy0Il">pic.twitter.com/L5W3Ezy0Il</a>

Fujita crushed her homer in the fourth, a two-run blast for a 5-1 lead.

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

Team Japan is on a roll.<br><br>The second home run of the game goes to the host nation. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TokyoOlympics?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TokyoOlympics</a><br><br>πŸ“Ί NBCSN<br>πŸ’» <a href="https://t.co/DAJ1HTV40X">https://t.co/DAJ1HTV40X</a><br>πŸ“± NBC Sports App <a href="https://t.co/FRshCnJIO5">pic.twitter.com/FRshCnJIO5</a>

Japan scored one more run before Yamamoto's shot ended the game via the seven-run, fifth-inning mercy rule.

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

HR x 2<br><br>Japan with another 2-run home run. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TokyoOlympics?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TokyoOlympics</a><br><br>πŸ“Ί NBCSN<br>πŸ’» <a href="https://t.co/DAJ1HTV40X">https://t.co/DAJ1HTV40X</a><br>πŸ“± NBC Sports App <a href="https://t.co/ZTjxLOxoqn">pic.twitter.com/ZTjxLOxoqn</a>

Both teams play Wednesday: Japan's next matchup is against Mexico, and Australia will play Italy.

United States 2, Italy 0

Starting pitcher Cat Osterman and closer Monica Abbott combined to throw a one-hitter as the United States shut down Italy 2-0.

Osterman was dealing throughout the game, registering her fifth strikeout on this fourth-inning pitch:

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

.<a href="https://twitter.com/catosterman?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@catosterman</a> with her 5️⃣th strikeout of the game.<a href="https://twitter.com/TeamUSA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TeamUSA</a> x <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TokyoOlympics?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TokyoOlympics</a><br><br>πŸ“Ί NBCSN<br>πŸ’» <a href="https://t.co/BqCdPeorGm">https://t.co/BqCdPeorGm</a><br>πŸ“± NBC Sports App <a href="https://t.co/LLRLJSnQDZ">pic.twitter.com/LLRLJSnQDZ</a>

In the bottom half of the inning, Michelle Moultrie gave the United States all it needed with an RBI single that scored Valerie Arioto.

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

.<a href="https://twitter.com/TeamUSA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TeamUSA</a> πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ scores their first run at the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TokyoOlympics?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TokyoOlympics</a>!<br><br>πŸ“Ί NBCSN<br>πŸ’» <a href="https://t.co/BqCdPeorGm">https://t.co/BqCdPeorGm</a><br>πŸ“± NBC Sports App <a href="https://t.co/MBphYLNl8w">pic.twitter.com/MBphYLNl8w</a>

Janie Reed's fifth-inning sacrifice fly plated Aubree Munro for an insurance run:

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

Team USA goes up 2-0 on the sac fly! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TokyoOlympics?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TokyoOlympics</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/USASoftball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@USASoftball</a> <a href="https://t.co/aRAOsl0wUm">pic.twitter.com/aRAOsl0wUm</a>

Abbott shut the door in the seventh by painting the black with this strikeout:

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

It's a 2-0 win for <a href="https://twitter.com/TeamUSA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TeamUSA</a>! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TokyoOlympics?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TokyoOlympics</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/USASoftball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@USASoftball</a> <a href="https://t.co/hmszRITpMn">pic.twitter.com/hmszRITpMn</a>

Both teams play again Wednesday: Canada is up next for the United States, and Italy will draw Australia.

Canada 4, Mexico 0

Team Canada pitchers Sara Groenwegen, Jenna Caira and Danielle Lawrie allowed just two hits collectively in a 4-0 shutout of Mexico early Wednesday morning.

The trio struck out a total of six Mexican players and walked just one, getting Canada off to a dominant start at the 2021 Summer Olympics.

Canada jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning and never looked back. The Canadians also tacked on insurance runs in the third and fourth innings.

First baseman Jenn Salling was the offensive star for Canada, going 2-for-2 with two RBI, including a solo home run in the third:

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

A homer for <a href="https://twitter.com/TeamCanada?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@teamcanada</a> πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ extends their lead by 3. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TokyoOlympics?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TokyoOlympics</a><br><br>πŸ“Ί NBCSN<br>πŸ’» <a href="https://t.co/MbC97jH7ye">https://t.co/MbC97jH7ye</a><br>πŸ“± NBC Sports App <a href="https://t.co/WTcRbhOEjz">pic.twitter.com/WTcRbhOEjz</a>

The top of Canada's batting order did a ton of damage in the game, as each of the first five hitters in the lineup had at least one hit and four of them finished with two hits.

Canada made life difficult for Mexico starting pitcher Dallas Escobedo, who was chased after four innings on the heels of allowing seven hits and four earned runs, while walking five.

The Canadians will look to keep rolling Wednesday when they face the United States, while Mexico will attempt to bounce back against Japan on Wednesday.