U.S. edged by Japan, takes silver in softball

July 27th, 2021

Despite a valiant comeback effort, the United States softball team fell to host nation Japan by a 2-0 final score in the gold medal game of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Japan’s tireless ace Yukiko Ueno once again delivered a stellar outing to send the stars and stripes to a silver medal, reminiscent of her legendary Olympic performance against the U.S. in 2008’s gold medal game.

The 39-year-old ace fired six scoreless innings to pick up the win, surrendering only two hits and two walks while recording five strikeouts to pick up her second softball gold medal.

Janie Reed robbed a home run to keep things close for the U.S. in the top of the seventh inning, leaping over the left-field wall to save two runs and set up the United States’ final turn at-bat.

The U.S. had a chance to draw even in the bottom of the sixth inning, but a screaming line drive off the bat of Amanda Chidester careened off the arm of Japan third baseman Yu Yamamoto and found the glove of shortstop Mana Atsumi to begin a dramatic inning-ending double play, which dashed the Americans' best scoring opportunity.

Atsumi started the scoring for Japan in the fourth inning with an RBI single and was followed up by designated player Yamato Fujita, who added an RBI single over her own in the fifth. Japan’s two runs in the game were the only two earned runs surrendered by American pitching throughout their six-game tournament run.

Despite playing on home soil, Japan was considered the road team today after dropping the final game of group play to the United States two days ago.

This is U.S. softball’s second straight silver medal after winning gold in 1996, 2000 and 2004. Japan has now won two straight Olympic gold medals. Softball was not included in the 2012 and 2016 games.

It remains to be seen whether the tournament will return to the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.