By Paul D. Bowker | Sept. 02, 2016, 12:01 a.m. (ET)
Aubree Munro bats against Australia at the World Cup of Softball XI on July 10, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Okla.



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Four years away from softball rejoining the Olympic program in Tokyo, the USA Softball Women’s National Team is in Japan to defend its 2015 title in the Japan Cup.

The United States will face Chinese Taipei and Japan on Saturday (2 and 5 a.m. ET) in Takasaki City, Japan. The Americans opened the tournament early Friday against Australia.

The medal round is Sunday, with the gold-medal game beginning at 4:30 a.m. ET.

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The U.S. women and Japan have established a strong rivalry in international play. The United States won last year’s Japan Cup by defeating Japan 2-1 in eight innings in the title game. They also defeated Japan and won the 2016 WBSC World Championship in July, but lost to Japan 2-1 in the title game of the World Cup of Softball XI in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Members of the squad include pitchers Jessica Moore and Kelly Barnhill, and hitters Valerie Arioto, Kelsey Stewart and Jazmyn Jackson, among others. Arioto slugged a home run in a 5-2 exhibition win over Team Honda on Wednesday in Takasaki City.

Paul D. Bowker is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.