Monica Abbott leads Team USA to 1-0 victory over Canada

FUKUSHIMA, JAPAN - JULY 22: Pitcher Monica Abbott #14 of Team United States pitches in the first inning of their game against Team Canada during the Softball Opening Round of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium on July 22, 2021 in Fukushima, Japan. (Photo by Yuichi Masuda/Getty Images)
FUKUSHIMA, JAPAN - JULY 22: Pitcher Monica Abbott #14 of Team United States pitches in the first inning of their game against Team Canada during the Softball Opening Round of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium on July 22, 2021 in Fukushima, Japan. (Photo by Yuichi Masuda/Getty Images)

Team USA women's softball team secures second win at the Tokyo 2020 Games and continues their quest for fourth Olympic gold medal

Team USA produced their second victory during the Softball Opening Round against Canada at the Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium.

Six outs from her second Olympic no-hitter, Monica Abbott was clinging to a one-run lead when she walked Canada's Jen Gilbert leading off the sixth inning, and pinch-hitter Sara Groenewegen lined a 0-2 pitch to the right-center field gap.

“When I was going into the sixth inning it popped into my head, ‘has anyone got a hit yet?’. That is a bad sign for a pitcher. But it popped into my head and then obviously I just lost my rhythm there for a minute. Aubree Munro did a good job of centering me and getting me back to throwing strikes and doing what Monica Abbott does."

Centre fielder Haylie McCleney picked up the ball at the wall and fired to Ali Aguilar. The second baseman made a perfect one-hop throw to catcher Munro, who moved up the third-base line and swiped a tag on sliding pinch-runner Joey Lye for the out.

“It's fun to be on the mound to watch that,” Abbott said after her one-hitter led the United States to a 1-0 victory over Canada on Thursday.

“I don't want to give up a hit like that, but, man oh man, it took a lot of confidence in me on our defense.

"I think Canada are a good team, they had a great opening day, and were hitting the ball well. They came out really aggressively yesterday (against Mexico), and we expected the same thing today. To keep them to that one hit was huge because they have been hitting the ball so well and swinging the bat good.”

US coach Ken Eriksen added: "It was a great game. Canada are a very, very strong team. They have been together for a very long time, and they play together. They have a synergy and they have given a lot of teams struggles."

Trying to regain the gold medal they lost to Japan in Beijing 2008, Team USA continues their campaign to reclaim their crown and win their fourth Olympic gold medal.

After the opening ceremony, the tournament shifts to Yokohama on Saturday (24 July) with the USA going head-to-head with Mexico whilst Canada take on Australia.

The Associated Press contributed to this report