Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

U.S. softball off to 2-0 start


FUKUSHIMA, Japan — Monica Abbott pitched a one-hitter, center fielder Haylie McCleney and second baseman Ali Aguilar combined to throw out the potential tying run at the plate in the sixth inning, and the United States beat Canada 1-0 today for a 2-0 start in the Olympics.

Abbott struck out 9, walked 3 and needed 102 pitches to throw the Americans’ second consecutiv­e one-hitter. Cat Osterman, at age 38 the Americans’ senior player, struck out nine over six innings, and Abbott struck out the side in the seventh to finish an opening 2-0 win over Italy on Wednesday.

Amanda Chidester hit an RBI single in the fifth off loser Jenna Caira that scored McCleney, who went 3 for 3 with a walk vs. Canada and has reached base seven times in the two games.

Trying to regain the gold medal they lost to Japan in 2008, the Americans are getting just enough offense. The U.S. was 1 for 8 with 6 strikeouts with runners in scoring position.

After a day off for the opening ceremony in Tokyo, the softball tournament resumes Saturday in Yokohama, where the U.S. plays Mexico.

Pitching a week before her 36th birthday, Abbott was bidding for a second Olympic no-hitter after a five-inning perfect game against the Netherland­s in 2008. She walked Jen Gilbert leading off the sixth, and pinch-hitter Sara Groenewege­n lined a 0-2 pitch to the right-center field gap.

Pinch-runner Joey Lye tried to score from first, but McCleney relayed the ball to Aguilar, and catcher Aubree Munro moved up the third-base line for Aguilar’s throw and caught the sliding Lye with a sweep tag.

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