The United States opened its Tokyo Olympics campaign with a 2-0 win over Italy Wednesday as softball made its long-awaited return to Olympic play after a 13-year hiatus.
For its first of five opening-round games, the U.S. turned to its veteran pitchers with three previous Olympics between them.
Athens 2004 gold medalist Cat Osterman got the start for the U.S. and was dominant, holding the Italians to just one hit through six innings, striking out nine. Her teammate at the Beijing 2008 Games, Monica Abbott, pitched a scoreless seventh to close out the shutout, striking out the side.
For large portion of the game, Italy’s Greta Cecchetti matched Osterman pitch-for-pitch. The former NCAA Division-I pitcher with Texas A&M Corpus Christi held the U.S. offense hitless for the first three innings.
In the bottom of the fourth, though, U.S. cleanup hitter Valarie Arioto managed a single off Cecchetti for the Americans’ first hit. Michelle Moultrie followed two batters later with a single to drive in Arioto and put the U.S. up 1-0.
One inning later, Aubree Munro scored on a sacrifice fly by Janie Reed to double the lead. The U.S. loaded the bases later in the fifth, but Moultrie flied out to end the inning and leave the runners stranded. The U.S. went scoreless in the sixth and seventh to round out a less-than-stellar offensive performance, which followed Japan’s 8-1 run-rule victory against Australia earlier in the day.
U.S. shuts out Italy in Olympic softball opener – NBC Olympics