USA softball blanks Italy to begin Olympics

July 21st, 2021

Softball is back in the Olympic spotlight after a 13-year hiatus, with Team USA beginning their quest for their fourth gold medal with a 2-0 win over Italy on Tuesday at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium.

Cat Osterman, who tossed six shutout innings, was the story of the game for Team USA. The two-time Olympic medalist started the ballgame with four no-hit frames before allowing a single to Andrea Filler to lead off the fifth, which was the only hit Osterman allowed. She struck out nine in her first Olympic start since 2008.

Monica Abbott came in to pitch the seventh and struck out the side to shut the door.

Team USA’s offense struggled early, as they were also no-hit for the first three innings by Italian starter Greta Cecchetti before Valerie Arioto broke it up with a single to lead off the fourth. Michelle Moultrie opened the scoring for the United States soon after, scoring Arioto on an RBI single.

Janie Reed also drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth, but one run was ultimately all Team USA needed to win their first game of the tournament.

The U.S. will take on Canada in their next matchup on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET.

The Olympic softball tournament differs from baseball this time around, as only six nations -- the United States, Italy, Japan, Canada, Mexico and Australia -- qualified for the tournament compared to the traditional eight-team format. In another game, Japan beat Australia, 8-1.

Each nation will face each other once in a round robin format to determine seeding. The top two teams will then advance into the gold medal game on July 27 with the third- and fourth-place teams advancing to the bronze medal game on the same day.