Canada's softball team comes up just short against U.S. in 2nd game at Tokyo Olympics
Abbott leads top-ranked Americans with 9 strikeouts, surrenders just 1 hit
Canada's softball team fell 1-0 to the top-ranked U.S. in their second game of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games on Wednesday in a tight contest at Fukushima Stadium.
Canada, ranked No. 3 in the world, was coming off a 4-0 win over Mexico in the opening game, while the U.S. defeated Italy 2-0 in its opener.
Starting pitcher Monica Abbott led the Americans with nine strikeouts while giving up just one hit.
Canada came close to tying the score in the sixth inning when Abbott walked Jen Gilbert to open the inning, but pinch-runner Joey Lye was thrown out at the plate after Sara Groenewegen doubled. Groenewegen wound up on third, but Abbott eventually ended the threat with a strikeout of Kelsey Harshman.
"It felt really good going around the bases and I was just hoping that they didn't make a perfect throw," said Lye in reference to the well-executed relay throw by the Americans. "It felt good rounding third. We'll live to play another day."
Canada stuck with the number-one ranked team in the world.<br><br>They just have to take care of business against the four other teams and they'll get a chance at the USA in the gold medal game. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Tokyo2020?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Tokyo2020</a>—@Devin_Heroux
"Obviously I hit it well, but sometimes that's not good enough because they make a good play," Groenewegen said.
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Despite the loss, Groenewegen's inspirational story continued with another chapter. The starting pitcher took command early on, striking out four batters while surrendering only three hits as the game remained scoreless through the first two innings.
Jenna Caira replaced Groenewegen to start the third and put together consecutive clean innings, but the Americans got on the board in the fifth when Amanda Chidester lined a single to right field that allowed Haylie McCleney to score.
Lauren Bay-Regula came in to pitch for Canada at the top of fifth and helped her team escape the inning with the bases loaded.
WATCH | U.S. edges Canada for 2nd win in Tokyo:
Groenewegen came back in as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning and found a way to solve Abbott for Canada's only hit. Groenewegen hit the ball to the back wall and made her way to third base, but Abbott then came through with another strikeout to keep her team unscathed.
McCleney singled to first in the seventh inning before a sacrifice bunt from Janie Reed allowed her to move to second. Canada's Danielle Lawrie earned her first strikeout of the game to help keep the Americans from scoring, but the Canadian hitters were unable to get their bats going to earn the tying run.
In other action, host Japan improved its record to 2-0 with a 3-2 win over Mexico, which is making its Olympic debut in softball. Australia evened its mark at 1-1 with a 1-0 victory over winless-in-two Italy.
All six teams in the tournament will play each other once in the round-robin stage before the two top teams square off for the gold medal on July 27 at 7 a.m. ET.
Canada next faces Australia on Friday at 9 p.m., while the U.S. will go up against Mexico on Saturday at 1:30 a.m. Both games will be broadcast live on the CBC TV network and streamed live on CBC Gem, the CBC Olympics app and CBC Sports' Tokyo 2020 website.
WATCH | Groenewegen's incredible journey to Tokyo:
with files from The Canadian Press