US softball loses to Japan again in gold medal game to take silver at Tokyo Olympics

·3 min read

TOKYO – U.S. softball waited 13 years for a chance to avenge its loss to Japan in the last Olympic softball gold medal game.

Instead, Japan won again in the sport’s return to the Olympics for the first time since 2008 on its home soil, prevailing 2-0 Tuesday at Yokohama Baseball Stadium.

“I’m honestly very proud of our team and everything we have dealt with in the last 2 ½ years," said U.S. pitcher Cart Osterman. "It’s been a lot. A lot of people don’t know what we had to deal with. We were without our whole staff from January all the way to June. We’ve done a lot of things we’re proud of. The end result is not what we wanted, but the journey was incredible, and we played some incredible softball here.”

Japan lost 2-1 to the U.S. on Monday in the finale of round robin play but won the game that counted, handing the Americans their first loss of this Olympics.

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Japan’s winning pitcher was 39-year-old Yukiko Ueno, also the victor in a 3-1 gold medal win over the U.S. in 2008. She worked six innings, allowing just two hits.

Japan got on the board first in the fourth against Ally Carda, the second U.S. pitcher.

Yamato Fujita lined a leadoff single to center, advanced on a sacrifice and ground out and scored when Mana Atsumi dove into first base to barely beat a throw from Ali Aguilar.

In the fifth, Japan scored again with two outs. Yu Yamamoto singled to center. Monica Abbott replaced Carda and, after a wild pitch advancing Yamamoto, gave up an RBI single to right by Fujita for an important Japanese insurance run.

Team United States utility Allyson Carda (3) hands pitcher Monica Abbott (14) the ball and talks during a pitching change against Japan during the fifth inning in the gold medal game of the Tokyo Olympics.
Team United States utility Allyson Carda (3) hands pitcher Monica Abbott (14) the ball and talks during a pitching change against Japan during the fifth inning in the gold medal game of the Tokyo Olympics.

Ueno worked five-plus innings, exiting after a leadoff single in the sixth by Michelle Moultrie. She re-entered to pitch the seventh.

Both teams had chances to score early against the same pitchers from 2008, Osterman (U.S.) and Ueno.

Janie Reed tripled to right center with one out in the U.S. home first but was thrown out trying to score on a strike out/wild pitch.

In the Japan second, Yuka Ichiguchi sent a shot to deep right field that Moultrie pulled down at the fence to prevent a two-run homer. Moultrie originally was in the lineup as designated player then shifted to right when play began.

“The biggest thing is you’re not going to win every game," Osterman said. "You’re not going to win every pitch. You’re not going to win every at bat. You have to figure out how you’re going to bounce back with it or how you’re just gonna move forward with it.

'Obviously, it’s a heartbreak that we’re coming home not with the gold but at the same time you look at it, you have the silver medal. How many people would give for that?"

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: US falls to Japan in gold medal game in softball's Olympic return

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