Posting back-to-back shutouts, the USA Softball team returned to the playing field, taking on fifth seed Mexico at Fukushima Azuma Stadium. Coming off a 1-0 win over Canada, starting pitcher Monica Abbott with a dominant pitching performance by going the distance, striking out nine, and retiring 10 in a row at one point.
Making her second start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Cat Osterman shined on the mound in the opener against Italy, hurling six shutout innings while whiffing nine hitters.
Mexico had the golden opportunity to get on the scoreboard first, with runners on first and second none out in the bottom second. However, Osterman managed to defuse the tense situation by retiring the side in order, including fanning the last hitters.
In the top of the third inning, Team USA went to work offensively.
Dejah Mulipola drew a lead-off walk followed by centerfielder Haylie McCleney raking a single to left field off Mexico starting pitcher Dallas Escobedo. Danielle O’Toole replaced Escobedo on the hill and promptly retired the next batters in a row. With the bases loaded, second baseman Ali Aguilar delivered in the clutch, cranking a two-run single into centerfield.
In the sixth inning, Team USA appeared poised to stretch out the lead. They seized upon a couple of miscues by the Mexico infielders that led to runners at second and third with none out.
Remaining calm under pressure, Danielle O’Toole set down the next two batters faced. Sierra Hyland took over the pitching duties and got third baseman, Kelsey Stewart, to lift a fly ball out to left field.
Meanwhile, Cat Osterman locked the fort down from the second inning on. Keeping Mexico hitters off-balance, Osterman retired 15 hitters in a row at one point. Osterman tossed six innings, allowing just one hit and striking out four.
Handing the ball off to Monica Abbott in the seventh inning, Mexico brought the tying run to the plate. Brittany Cervantes reached on an error leading off the inning. Even after throwing 102 pitches against Canada, Abbott slammed the door shut in dominant fashion by striking out the side to preserve the 2-0 win.
Next up for Team USA(3-0) is a match-up against No. 8 Australia (1-2) on July 25th, with the first pitch set for 9 p.m. EST and 10 a.m. Japan time.