On Friday, the U.S. softball team faced the toughest day of its gilded Olympic history: a doubleheader starting with undefeated Japan and followed by the resumption of a game against Canada that was delayed by rain with the U.S. trailing 1-0 in the top of the fourth inning. Back to back losses? It wasn't impossible.
But softball's version of Murderer's Row started things off with an aluminum bang. Shortstop
The U.S. battered Japan's starting pitcher,
After giving up a single to the first batter of the game -- the first hit allowed by the U.S. at these Games -- pitcher
Abbott bounced back from the previous day, when she was called for three illegal pitches, including one that advanced the lone Canadian runner who scored before the rain postponement. Abbott was penalized for not having her left push-off foot over the rubber when she began her delivery.
"I was pretty upset about that yesterday," she said, after notching her first Olympic win against Japan. "I made some adjustments."
The delayed U.S. versus Canada game was six outs from being official. Abbott had started it before the rain arrived, and did not allow a hit. (The run scored courtesy of an error and two illegal pitches).
Prior to the Olympics, several women on the U.S. team noted that the world was catching up to them, and multiple team members pointed to Canada as a squad that could surprise people.
With their 17-game Olympic win streak on the line, the U.S. team's bats came alive and coupled with poor defense by Canada. Three errors produced a four-run sixth inning and pitcher
Mendoza, with two homers and four runs -- including the go-ahead against Canada -- was cautiously satisfied (Cue Mrs. Announcer) with what she'd achieved. "I'm just happy to get two wins against the two best teams [other than the U.S.] in the world," she said.