The US Softball team have fallen 2-0 to Japan in the gold medal game of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. This was the Americans first loss of the tournament after outscoring their opponents 9-2 in the previous five games. This is the second consecutive game that the two teams played in these Olympics after the two teams finished off group play against one another with the Americans collecting a comeback walk off win on July 25.
This was a rematch of the 2008 Olympic Gold Medal final when the Japanese beat the Americans 3-1. Fun Fact: This game also had the same starting pitching matchup as that game with Cat Osterman coming out of retirement to pitch in these Olympics getting the starting nod for the Americans and Yukiko Uneo toeing the slab for the Japanese. The loss gives the Americans their fifth medal in softball with three golds and two silvers. 2020 marked the return of Olympic softball action, as the sport has not been contested since the 2008 games.
The US struggled to bring runners home all game, but most notably in the first inning when a triple by Janie Reed opened the American hit column with one out and a dropped third strike allowed Amanda Chidester to reach first while Reed scurried home and was tagged out by the pitcher Uneo. After two wild pitches by the Japanese relievers Chidester moved to second before Valerie Arioto waived at a pitch out of the zone to strand Chidester. The US would finish the game with only three hits.
The Japanese finally got on the board in the third inning when Yamato Fujia singled, moved to second on a bunt, and then third on a ground out, before coming home on an infield single by Mana Atsumi. Reed prevented a two run home run in the top of the 7th inning that would’ve put the game out of reach to keep it 2-0, with a wall climbing robbery. However that and two other stellar defensive plays by the Americans were all for naught as they went down in order in the final frame.
After the game, US head coach Ken Erisken spoke to USA Softball and the media saying, “If you’re fan of softball in the United States, you have to be very, very proud of the team that went out and competed against Team Japan tonight,” Eriksen said. “These athletes gave their all for their teammates and their country.”