The Journal Gazette
Thursday, July 22, 2021 1:00 am

Olympics United States 1 Canada 0

Pitching lifts US to 2-0 start in softball

1-hitter enough for win as bats go quiet

Associated Press

FUKUSHIMA, Japan – Monica Abbott pitched a one-hitter, center fielder Haylie McCleney and second baseman Ali Aguilar combined to throw out the potential tying run at the plate in the sixth inning and the United States beat Canada 1-0 on Thursday for a 2-0 start.

Abbott struck out nine, walked three and needed 102 pitches to throw the Americans' second consecutive one-hitter. Cat Osterman, at age 38 the Americans' senior player, struck out nine over six innings and Abbott struck out the side in the seventh to finish an opening 2-0 win over Italy on Wednesday. Osterman walked none, hit two batters and gave up her only hit to Bishop Dwenger graduate Andrea Filler, a single leading off the fourth. 

Against Canada, Amanda Chidester hit an RBI single in the fifth off loser Jenna Caira that scored McCleney, who went 3 for 3 with a walk and has reached base seven times in the two games.

Trying to regain the gold medal they lost to Japan in 2008, the Americans are getting just enough offense. The U.S. was 1 for 8 with six strikeouts with runners in scoring position.

The tournament resumes Saturday as the U.S. plays Mexico.

Pitching a week before her 36th birthday, Abbott was bidding for a second Olympic no-hitter after a five-inning perfect game against the Netherlands in 2008. She walked Jen Gilbert leading off the sixth and pinch-hitter Sara Groenewegen lined a 0-2 pitch to the right-center field gap.

Pinch-runner Joey Lye tried to score from first, but McCleney relayed the ball to Aguilar, and catcher Aubree Munro moved up the third-base line for Aguilar's throw and caught the sliding Lye with a sweep tag.

Groenewegen took third on the throw, but Abbott stranded pinch-runner Janet Leung when Victoria Heyward flied out and, after an intentional walk, Kelsey Harshman struck out.

The U.S. scored in the fifth after McCleney popped a single into short left with one out. Janie Reed sacrificed and Chidester lined a 1-2 pitch on the outside corner to the opposite field into right.

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