Sports

Cat Osterman pitches US softball over Mexico 2-0 for 3-0 start

The United States has not allowed a run to this point.

United States' Cat Osterman pitches during a softball game against Mexico at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 24, 2021, in Yokohama, Japan. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) The Associated Press


YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) — Cat Osterman pitched shutout ball for the second time in four days, Ali Aguilar hit a tiebreaking, two-run single and the top-ranked United States beat No. 5 Mexico 2-0 Saturday at the Olympic softball tournament.

The U.S. pitched its third straight one-hitter and has not allowed a run while improving to 3-0 in softball’s return to the Olympics for the first time since 2008. But the Americans are getting just enough offense, scoring five runs.

They play Australia on Sunday and host Japan on Monday to complete the group stage. The top two nations advance to Tuesday’s gold medal game.

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Osterman (2-0), a 38-year-old left-hander and one of two veterans of the U.S. team that was upset by Japan in the 2008 gold medal game, allowed one hit in six innings, struck out four, walked two and hit a batter.

Monica Abbott, the other veteran of 2008, worked around an error to strike out the side in the ninth for her second save to go along with a win.

Haylie McCleney had two more hits, giving her six in three games. Mexico shortstop Anissa Urtez, who is engaged to U.S. right fielder Amanda Chidester, made a diving backhand stop to rob McCleney of a hit leading off the fifth.

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Mexico, in its first Olympic softball tournament, dropped to 0-3 and is in danger of missing the medal round.

Pitching without a cap and with a white towel dangling from her back pocket on a 90-degree, humid afternoon, Osterman retired her final 14 batters and has allowed one hit in 12 innings with 13 strikeouts.

She had opened Wednesday with a 2-0 win over Italy in Fukushima, and Abbott defeated Canada 1-0 on Thursday.

After a day off, the action shifted to Yokohama Stadium, the 34,046-capacity downtown home of the Central League’s Baystars, which opened in 1978. With artificial turf, high fences and a symmetrical outfield, it resembles 1960s and ’70s cookie cutters such at Philadelphia’s Veterans, Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers and Cincinnati’s Riverfront. In a throwback, the seats closest to the dugouts are angled toward the outfield.

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Mexico threatened in the second when Suzannah Brookshire worked out an eight-pitch walk leading off and Victoria Vidales reached on an infield single. Osterman got Chelsea Gonzales to foul out, threw a called third strike past Sashel Palacios and fanned Stefania Aradillas.

Aguilar put the U.S. ahead in the third with a two-out single following an intentional walk to Valerie Arioto that had loaded the bases.

Dejah Mulipola, getting her first start, had walked leading off the third and McCleney singled.

Danielle O’Toole relieved starter Dallas Escobedo, struck out Janie Reed and got Chidester to ground out before Aguilar lined a single to center.

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