Team USA huddles together prior to their game against Team Mexico at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 24, 2021 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan.
The pitching dominance of the U.S. Olympic softball team has been shining bright during the first three games of the Tokyo Olympics.
Cat Osterman allowed just an infield single and Ali Aguilar drove in both runs of a 2-0 victory over Mexico on Saturday at Yokohama Baseball Stadium in Yokohama, Japan. The victory improved the Americans’ record to 3-0 and allowed the U.S. to remain atop the six-country standings, with fellow undefeated Japan (2-0) playing Italy (0-2) to wrap up Saturday’s action.
The Americans and Japanese — who played in the gold-medal game when softball was last in the Olympics in 2008, with Japan winning 3-1 — are seemingly on a collision course for back-to-back clashes. The top two teams in the world will square off Monday in the finale of pool play and then possibly again for the gold medal on July 27. The top four teams from pool play advance to the medal round, with the top two playing for gold and the other two for bronze.
Osterman and fellow left-hander Monica Abbott, the only two returning Olympians on the U.S. team, combined to allow one hit in each of the first two wins over Italy and Canada. Against Mexico, Osterman pitched six shutout innings, striking out four and walking one. Abbott, who also pitched the final inning of Osterman’s start against Italy in the opener, struck out three of the four batters she faced to get the save.
In her third Olympics, Osterman ran into trouble in the second inning as the first two runners reached, but a popup and two strikeouts ended the threat. Osterman retired the final 15 batters she faced. Mexico — which took Japan to extras in its last game, losing 3-2 in eight innings — made a lot of contact and worked the count against Osterman, striking out just four times.
The U.S. grabbed a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning. No. 9 hitter Dejah Mulipola drew a leadoff walk and Haylie McCleney continued her torrid Olympics with a single to left to chase off Mexico starter Dallas Escobedo. Left-hander Danielle O’Toole came on to get the next two outs before Team USA’s Valerie Arioto walked to load the bases, and Aguilar delivered her big two-run single.
It will be a quick turnaround for the U.S., which plays Australia (1-2) on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET.
Want to follow Team USA athletes during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020? Visit TeamUSA.org/Tokyo2020 to view the medal table, results and competition schedule.