Monica Abbott pitches against Japan during Game 3 between Japan and Team USA at the Tokyo Dome on June 25, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan.
Despite the best efforts of starting pitcher Monica Abbott and the defense, the U.S. women’s softball team dropped the third and final game and also the Japan All-Star Series Tuesday in Tokyo. The U.S. lost the game 1-0 and the series 2-1.
The series was a rematch of the last Olympic gold-medal game, won by Japan in 2008, and could be a preview of things to come at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, when the sport returns to the Olympic program. Team USA, which is ranked No. 1 in the world, defeated Japan to win last year’s world championship and qualify for the Games. No. 2 Japan is already qualified as the host nation.
With the series tied going into today’s rubber match, 2008 Olympian Abbott went three innings and allowed just one hit. Keilani Ricketts, Ally Carda and two-time Olympian Cat Osterman followed in relief, with nothing but goose eggs for Japan until they scored the winner in the bottom of the eighth.
With Japan’s Haruka Agatsuma starting the eighth inning on second, she advanced to third on a groundout and then scored on a single by Sayaka Mori. Osterman took the loss despite pitching 2 2/3 innings and giving up just the one hit.
Japan also got the win in the first matchup of the three-game series after coming back from an early three-run deficit to claim a 6-4 victory on Saturday.
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Delaney Spaulding hit a two-run home run in the third inning to give the U.S. a 3-0 lead but Japan countered with three runs in the bottom of the inning and another three in the fourth. The U.S. had the bases loaded in the fifth when it opened with a single by Janie Reed, a walk to Valerie Arioto and a single by Ali Aguilar, but Team USA came out of it with just one run. Ricketts started for the U.S., and Carda took the loss.
The U.S. evened things up Sunday in the second game, scoring all its runs in the second inning then using a strong defensive effort to lodge a 7-2 victory.
With the bases loaded, the U.S. scored its first run on a passed ball, and then a single by Reed scored two more. A bases-loaded walk and a single from Spaulding made it 5-1, and Michelle Moultrie drove in the final two with a single to right field.
Osterman made her return to the mound in international play for the first time since 2010 and earned the win, pitching four innings in relief of Abbott, who started the game. Osterman gave up one unearned run on two hits, struck out four and walked three, while Abbott allowed just one run on three hits, struck out three and walked three in three innings.
Osterman, a left-hander, made her return to the national team this year after coming out of retirement with the hopes of making a third Olympic team in 2020. The 36-year-old and 2004 gold medalist was named to the national team after selection trials in January. Prior to that she last played for the national team at the world championship in Venezuela in 2010, where the U.S. won gold.
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.