By Karen Price | Aug. 10, 2018, 10 a.m. (ET)
Monica Abbott celebrates at the WBSC Women's Softball World Championship on Aug. 10, 2018 in Chiba, Japan.


In a close playoff game at the WBSC Women’s Softball World Championship, pitcher Monica Abbott (Tennessee ’07) was lights out for Team USA.

The veteran left-hander and the only member of the U.S. softball team with Olympic experience struck out 18 batters in Team USA’s 3-1 win over Australia in the playoff round on Friday in Chiba, Japan. Haylie McCleney (Alabama ’16) was 1 for 3 with two runs scored and Delaney Spaulding (UCLA ’17) was 1 for 3 with two RBI. The U.S. remains undefeated at 8-0. 

Abbott struck out nine in a row before Australia would manage its first hit. It was a home run to right field by Stacy Porter to tie the game 1-1. Leigh Godfrey singled immediately after, but if the Australians thought that was their time to take over the game, they were wrong. 

Abbott got the next three batters on strikeouts to end the inning and Australia wouldn’t get another hit the rest of the game. They reached base only once more with two out in the seventh inning on a hit by pitch, but Clare Warwick popped out to end the game. 

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On offense, the U.S. took advantage of one of two costly errors by Australia to take a 1-0 lead in the first inning. McCleney reached base on an error then went to second on a passed ball before scoring on Spaulding’s line drive to center field. 

The score remained tied until the fifth inning after the U.S. loaded the bases with one out. Spaulding drove in the second run of the game with a ground ball to third baseman Porter and her errant throw to home also allowed McCleney to score and make it 3-1.

Abbott faced just seven batters in the last two innings.

Next up for the U.S. is world No. 2 Japan in the second playoff on Saturday with a trip to the gold-medal game on the line.

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.