Win Over Australia returns US softball to gold medal game

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Haylie McCleney celebrates after scoring the first of two runs in the eighth inning to win against Team Australia 2-1 at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 25, 2021 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan.

For the fifth time in as many Olympics as the sport has been played, the US softball team will play for a gold medal.

Amanda Chidester’s two-run single in the bottom of the eighth inning propelled the United States to Australia 2-1 on Sunday at Yokohama Baseball Stadium in Yokohama, Japan. Monica Abbott struck out 13 hits while allowing just three hits for the United States, while Tarni Stepto dispersed five hits for Australia.

By winning their first four group matches, the top-ranked Americans won their fourth gold medal on Tuesday. They will face either Japan, second (3-0), or Canada, third (2-1) – which will meet later Sunday – for gold. The format of these Olympics is that the top two pool teams will compete for gold, while the third and fourth placed teams will compete for bronze.

The United States wraps up their group game on Monday against Japan, which beat the Americans 3-1 for gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the last time softball was played at the Games.

The offense was hard to come by at the Olympics for the United States. The same was true against Australia. Center fielder Haylie McCleney led late in the first inning with a right-field triple, but was sent off at home two batters later. The United States had two runs with a third out, but a double play erased that threat. Two more runners reached fifth, but Australia came out unscathed.

Abbott, one of two returning Olympians from Team USA (along with fellow pitcher Cat Osterman), had to practice on a single jam, which occurred in the sixth inning. Australia put in the top two runners before Abbott got back-to-back strikeouts. Abbott’s second walk of the inning charged up the bases, but she struck out pinch hitter Michelle Cox for her 10th punch of the game.

With the score tied 0-0, the game moved on to extra innings. In the start of the eighth – which started with a runner on second – Abbott let three batters walk unusually, forcing a run. It was the first allowed by the United States for the Tokyo Olympics.

With Ally Carda running in second to start the end of the heat, McCleney shot a single from the shortstop and Janie Reed knocked the runners back in second and third. Chidester then pierced the first pitch she saw from Stepto in the gap to the left center, easily scoring Carda and McCleney and sending the United States into the gold medal game.

Want to follow Team USA athletes during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games? Visit TeamUSA.org/Tokyo2020 for the medal table, results and competition schedule.


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