USA softball tops Canada on Abbott's 1-hitter

July 22nd, 2021

It took a game-saving relay in the bottom of the sixth, but Team USA softball topped Canada, 1-0, on Wednesday at Fukushima Azuma Stadium to improve to 2-0 in the Tokyo Olympics.

Canada nearly tied the game in the sixth inning after a leadoff walk and a double that broke up Monica Abbott’s no-hit bid, but Haylie McCleney got the ball in from right-center field to second baseman Ali Aguilar, who threw out pinch-runner Joey Lye at the plate.

With two outs, Abbott struck out Kelsey Harshman with runners on second and third to end the threat, and Canada went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh.

Abbott, a silver medalist at the 2008 Olympics, finished with nine strikeouts in the one-hit shutout.

The U.S. had seven hits in the game but didn’t get a run across until the fifth inning, when Amanda Chidester's two-out single scored McCleney -- who is 7-for-7 through two games. Team USA threatened for more in the frame, loading the bases, but was unable to get another run across.

Softball is back at the Olympics for the first time since 2008, and Team USA is off to a great start as it looks to avenge its gold-medal-game loss to Japan 13 years ago in Beijing.

The U.S. notched a 2-0 win over Italy in its first game Tuesday, kicking off the round-robin portion of its schedule. Team USA's next game is scheduled for Saturday against Mexico.

In the opening round, each of the six qualifying nations will play each other once. The teams with the two best records will then advance to the gold-medal game on July 27, with the third- and fourth-place teams advancing to the bronze-medal game on the same day.

Japan, which opened Tuesday with a victory over Australia, is also off to a 2-0 start after defeating Mexico, 3-2, later on Wednesday. Canada (1-1) beat Mexico (0-2) in their first matchup.