Japan successfully defended their gold medal from 2008 in a 2-0 win over the United States in Tokyo on Tuesday.
The victory marks Japan’s second Olympic gold medal in softball and is also the second-consecutive Olympics where the Japanese bested the Americans in the gold medal matchup.
Yukiko Ueno and Cat Osterman started for Japan and the US, respectively, in a mirror image of the 2008 Olympic Gold medal game. Osterman departed after two innings without giving up a run. Ally Carda came on in relief, giving up one run and was charged with a second run who reached base off of Carda but scored after Monica Abbott entered the game. All in all, the United States pitching staff continued their quality efforts in the Games.
For her part, Ueno continued her own stellar performance in Tokyo. She exited after giving up a leadoff single in the bottom of the sixth, but returned to pitch the 1-2-3 seventh inning that clinched the Gold medal for Japan. Miu Goto, on in relief in that sixth, benefitted from a wild double play, when Amanda Chidester’s line drive ricocheted off the arm of third baseman Yu Yamamoto and right into the glove of the Japanese shortstop, who threw across her body to quickly double Michelle Moultrie off second base and end the inning.
Outside the pitching circle, Janie Takeda Reed had a stellar game for the US. Reed’s first-inning triple gave the Americans a chance to score early in the matchup and she added a single later in the game. Reed also robbed a home run in the top of the 7th in impressive fashion, literally climbing the outfield fence to bring one back.
After the game, a tearful Cat Osterman was interviewed by Jessica Mendoza for NBC. Osterman came out of retirement to play for the US in these Games and poured her heart into the effort, going undefeated in three appearances in Tokyo.
The Gold medal game likely marked the final international appearance for a number of players, among them Osterman and Ueno.
Elsewhere, Canada beat Mexico 3-2 in the wee hours of Tuesday morning in the US to clinch the bronze medal. Canada softball has appeared in every possible Olympic Games, but had never earned a medal until Tokyo. Danielle Lawrie, in a similar position to Osterman by having come out of retirement in order to help lead her team to the medal stand, closed the game with a strikeout to clinch the Bronze.