TOKYO, Japan –– The world-ranked No.1 U.S. Olympic Softball Team picked up their third shutout win of the Tokyo Olympics with a 2-0 victory over No. 5 Mexico. Improving to an undefeated 3-0 record through Day 3 of the opening round, Olympians Cat Osterman (Houston, Texas) and Monica Abbott (Salinas, Calif.) combined for the shutout win in the circle. Osterman took care of business through the first six innings, retiring the last 15 batters she faced in order while Abbott closed out the win in the bottom of the seventh. Ali Aguilar (Orangevale, Calif.) came up clutch for the U.S. offense in the top of the third, plating Team USA’s only two runs of the game.
“Mexico posed a tremendous challenge to us,” said U.S. Olympic Softball Team Head Coach, Ken Eriksen. “With a roster full of former Team USA players that are good, we needed our “A” game today. When Cat and Dejah got the groove going it gave our hitters some comfort. For those two to retire the last 15 hitters they faced was amazing to watch. Ali’s clutch two out hit was just what the Dr. ordered. Now we have to regroup quickly for the early game tomorrow.”
“Our team is so supportive of each other, and we have a lot of energy that keeps us going throughout the game,” said Aguilar. “We have trust in each other that we are going to get the timely hit and that really keeps our confidence high through every at bat. I think our team knows that anyone in our line up can come up clutch at any moment, which we’ve shown in our last three games with three different hitters coming up with the hit when it was needed.”
For the third-straight game, Team USA’s leadoff hitter Haylie McCleney (Morris, Ala.) gave the U.S. their first baserunner of the game, this time with a single up the middle. McCleney then advanced to second on a stolen base but was left stranded as the next three U.S. batters went down in order. Osterman started out hot in the circle, retiring the first two batters with a fly out and a strikeout. A hit-by-pitch would put a runner on for Mexico, but a nicely fielded ground ball by Aguilar would end the inning.
Team USA went down in order in the top of the second, while Mexico looked to get something started in the bottom of the frame. A leadoff walk followed by an infield single would put a pair of runners on with no outs, but Osterman and the U.S. defense remained unphased as a ground out and two strikeouts ended the Mexico threat.
All the scoring came in the top of the third for Team USA after Dejah Mulipola (Anaheim, Calif.) led off the inning with a walk followed by a single from McCleney. With two outs and runners on first and second, Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) was issued a walk to load the bases for Aguilar who sent a line drive to the outfield to plate two for Team USA. Osterman zoned in through the next four innings, retiring the next 12 batters she faced in order to keep Mexico off the board through the bottom of the sixth.
Despite two forced errors on the Mexico defense and singles from Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) and Dejah Mulipola (Anaheim, Calif.), the U.S. offense remained stifled through the remainder of the game while Abbott came in to seal the win for the U.S. in the bottom of the seventh. Abbott, who also closed the game against Italy, wasted no time in the final half inning of the contest, striking out three of the four batters she faced to get the save.
McCleney led the U.S. offense with a 2-for-4 day at the plate, improving her overall Olympic performance to 6-for-9. In the circle, Osterman struck out four while Abbott fanned three to put the two returning Olympians at a combined 28 strikeouts through three games.
The Red, White and Blue have a quick turnaround with Game 4 against No. 8 Australia scheduled to kick off tomorrow at 10 a.m. JT / July 24 at 9 p.m. ET. Fans from across the globe can follow along with the Olympic Softball competition through LIVE broadcasts on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and CNBC in addition to a live stream available on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app. Live stats are also available on USASoftball.com.