After seven innings saw USA and Australia softball fail to plate a runner on Sunday, the Americans got the job done in extras to clinch a berth in the gold medal game.
With runners on second and third while trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the eighth, Amanda Chidester picked up her first hit of the day. It was a big one. Her ground ball off Australia pitcher Tarni Stepto made it into left field, allowing Ally Carda and Haylie McCleney to score the game-winning runs on a two-run walkoff single.
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 25, 2021
Australia's Taylah Tsitsikronis inexplicably cut off the throw to home plate with McKlinney running home. But it appears that McKlinney would have scored regardless of the miscue. With the 2-1 win, Team USA improved to 4-0 in group play, good enough to advance to the gold medal game. Australia dropped to 1-3.
Team USA allows first run in win
The lone Australian run was the first Team USA has allowed in Tokyo. The Americans previously posted a 2-0 win over Italy, a 1-0 win over Canada and a 1-0 win over Mexico en route to its 3-0 start.
Australia scored its run in the top of the eighth thanks in part to a rule that baseball fans have become familiar with during the COVID-19 pandemic. Like MLB has done the last two seasons, softball teams start with a runner on second base once the game goes to extra innings. The same rule that allowed Australia to score without a hit (sacrifice bunt, 3 walks) in the top of the inning let Team USA plate two runs on two ground balls and a sacrifice bunt in the bottom of the eighth.
USA's Monica Abbott struck out 13 batters while walking six to improve to 2-0 on the mound in Tokyo.
Collision course with Japan for gold medal?
Team USA has one game remaining in group play against 3-0 Japan. Each of the six teams in the tournament play each other once in group play, with the top two teams in the standings advancing to the gold medal game.
Japan would clinch a berth in the gold medal game with a win against Canada in its next matchup. If that's the case, the winner of Japan's and USA's round-robin game would bat last in the gold-medal game.
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