The 2021 Olympic Games have not officially started yet and the United States already has two softball wins, and former Cal star Valerie Arioto already has two hits.
The top-ranked USA team has yet to get its offense going, but its pitching has been superb. After allowing just one hit in a 2-0 victory over Italy in its opening game, USA pitcher Monica Abbott allowed just one hit in a 1-0 victory over third-ranked Canada on Wednesday (Thursday in Japan).
The 32-year-old Arioto went 1-for-3 against Italy as the USA cleanup hitter, and she was 1-for-3 again hitting out of the No. 4 slot against Canada.
However, the big hit was provided by Amanda Chidester, whose two-out single in the fifth inning knocked in Haylie McCleney for the only run of the game.
The Americans preserved the lead with some good defense in the sixth inning. With a runner on first, Canada's Sara Groenewegen lined a double to the right-center gap. But a perfect relay throw to the plate got baserunner Jen Gilbert at home.
Abbott pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning to complete the shutout, matching the pitching performance of Cat Osterman the previous day,
Former Cal linebacker and current Washington NFL head coach Ron Rivera even paid homage to Osterman with this tweet:
All six softball teams in the Olympics will play each of the other five teams in the round-robin opening round of action. The teams that finish first and second will then face off in a gold-medal game.
The USA plays Mexico next on Saturday.
Cover photo of Monica Abbott by Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Network
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