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Olympic Softball 2021 Day 2 Results: USA Tops Canada, Italy to Open Pool Play

Blake SchusterContributor IJuly 22, 2021

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Softball returned to the Olympics for the first time since 2008 as the United States national team won its first two games in Tokyo.

A year after the 2020 games were slated to begin, the Americans finally took the field at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium and promptly defeated Italy, 2-0, before picking up a 1-0 victory over Canada. 

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

High fives all around πŸ‘‹<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/iNbTljhhqA">https://t.co/iNbTljhhqA</a><br>πŸ“± NBC Sports App <a href="https://t.co/q4S5JPL42c">pic.twitter.com/q4S5JPL42c</a>

This year's Olympic tournament will feature six countries playing a round-robin format with the top two teams advancing to the gold medal game while the third- and fourth-placed teams compete for bronze. 

Here's a glance at the action on Days 1 and 2. 


Schedule & Results

Japan def. Australia, 8-1

USA def. Italy, 2-0

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Canada def. Mexico, 4-0

USA def. Canada, 1-0

Japan def. Mexico, 3-2

Australia def. Italy, 1-0


Standings

1. Japan (2-0, +8 run differential)

2. USA (2-0, +3 run differential)

3. Canada (1-1, +3 run differential)

4. Australia (1-1, -6 run differential)

5. Italy (0-2, -3 run differential)

6. Mexico (0-2, -5 run differential)


Highlights

The host country kicked things off with an 8-1 walloping of Australia. Japan used home runs from Minori Naito, Yamato Fujita and Yu Yamamoto, scoring one in the first inning, two in the third, three in the fourth and two more in the fifth to close things out. 

After playing to a 1-1 tie after two innings, Japan quickly overpowered its opponent as Yukiko Ueno picked up the win over Kaia Parnaby. 

The Americans got to work against Italy next, breaking through with runs in the fourth and fifth innings. It turns out that was all the U.S. needed. 

Cat Osterman, who came out of retirement at age 38 to rejoin the national team, pitched a gem over six innings, giving up one hit while striking out nine. Monica Abbott picked up the save in the seventh inning by striking out the side. 

While Canada was able to muscle its way past Mexico, it couldn't do much of anything against the U.S. in the second game. 

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

.<a href="https://twitter.com/monicaabbott?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@monicaabbott</a> with a strikeout to end the first inning ⚑️<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/iNbTljhhqA">https://t.co/iNbTljhhqA</a><br>πŸ“± NBC Sports App <a href="https://t.co/fvExQkBXGF">pic.twitter.com/fvExQkBXGF</a>

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

.<a href="https://twitter.com/TeamUSA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TeamUSA</a> is on the board!<br><br>πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ leads 1-0. <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/iNbTljhhqA">https://t.co/iNbTljhhqA</a><br>πŸ“± NBC Sports App <a href="https://t.co/SRBtLvXVwp">pic.twitter.com/SRBtLvXVwp</a>

Still warm from her save against Italy, Abbott returned to the bump and tossed a complete game with nine strikeouts, three walks and one hit allowed over seven innings. Every pitch was crucial as the Americans remained locked in a scoreless battle through five innings. 

USA finally got a go-ahead run in the top of the fifth when Amanda Chidester singled to right field, scoring Haylie McCleney from second with two outs. The inning nearly became a disaster for Canada as the U.S. loaded the bases, only for Bubba Nickles to strike out looking. 

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

WHAT a play.<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/iNbTljhhqA">https://t.co/iNbTljhhqA</a><br>πŸ“± NBC Sports App <a href="https://t.co/eM6mDfmI7M">pic.twitter.com/eM6mDfmI7M</a>

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

A HUGE play at the plate helps <a href="https://twitter.com/USASoftball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@USASoftball</a> hang onto their slim lead. <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/iNbTljhhqA">https://t.co/iNbTljhhqA</a><br>πŸ“± NBC Sports App <a href="https://t.co/CYXxKdrW5I">pic.twitter.com/CYXxKdrW5I</a>

Still, the Americans held on for a second win as Abbott continued her strong showing in Tokyo.

Japan also remained unbeaten with a hard-fought 3-2 win over Mexico.

The Mexicans nearly pulled off the upset as they got three straight batters on base to start the seventh inning, including an RBI single by Anissa Urtez to tie the game at two. Miu Goto came up clutch out of the bullpen, though, recording three straight outs to get out of the jam.

Mana Atsumi delivered the winning run with an infield single in the eighth that brought home Eri Yamada from third.

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

Japan seals the deal! πŸ‡―πŸ‡΅<br><br>The host nation secures their second win in softball at the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TokyoOlympics?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TokyoOlympics</a>. <a href="https://t.co/pqwY830Qic">pic.twitter.com/pqwY830Qic</a>

There are three remaining days of pool play, which will run Saturday through Monday in Tokyo after Friday's opening ceremony, but it already appears Team USA and Japan could be on a collision course for the gold medal match.

Saturday's games include Australia vs. Canada, the U.S. vs. Mexico and Japan vs. Italy.

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