FUKUSHIMA, Japan (AP) – Monica Abbott threw a hit, center fielder Haylie McCleney and second baseman Ali Aguilar combined to knock out the potential equalizer at home in the sixth inning and the United States beat the Canada 1-0 Thursday for a 2-0 start.
Abbott struck out nine shots, walked three and needed 102 shots to throw the Americans’ second straight hit. Cat Osterman, 38, the senior Americans player, struck out nine in six innings and Abbott pulled the side out in the seventh to complete a first 2-0 win over Italy on Wednesday.
Amanda Chidester hit an RBI single in fifth loser Jenna Caira who scored McCleney, who went 3 for 3 with a walk and hit base seven times in the two games.
Trying to win back the gold medal they lost to Japan in 2008, the Americans get just enough offense. The United States was 1 for 8 with six 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 United States faces Mexico.
Showing a week before his 36th birthday, Abbott was aiming for a second Olympic scoreless game after a perfect five-set game against the Netherlands in 2008.
She walked Jen Gilbert in the lead of the sixth and batter Sara Groenewegen ranged 0-2 to the sideline at center-right.
Pinch runner Joey Lye tried to score from first base, but McCleney thrown the ball to Aguilar, and wide receiver Aubree Munro came up the third base line for Aguilar’s throw and caught the slippery Lye with a scan label.
Groenewegen took third in the throw, but Abbott blocked pinch runner Janet Leung when Victoria Heyward took off and, after an intentional walk, Kelsey Harshman struck out.
The United States scored in the fifth after McCleney scored a short left single with one out. Janie Reed, whose husband Jake was designated to be affected by the Los Angeles Dodgers just before the game, sacrificed and Chidester fielded a 1-2 pitch to the outside corner of the opposite court to the right.
Canada, third in the standings at its fifth Olympics, is aiming for its first medal.
Abbott, a 35-year-old southpaw, is 6-foot-3 and is nervous. His release point at the front of the 8-foot circle cuts the 43-foot distance between the rubber and the plate, a striking similarity to Randy Johnson.
There was a feeling of spring training within the squad a day after many officials attended the opening. The stadium was nearly empty, with around 30 media and officials in the stands and around a dozen photographers in the field.
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