sunny.png
Friday September 24th, 2021 4:41PM

Japan tops Australia in softball as delayed Tokyo Games open

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

FUKUSHIMA, Japan (AP) — Yukiko Ueno had waited 4,718 days for this moment, 13 long years that included an extra delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Finally, after all the doubts the Tokyo Olympics would ever take place, she was back on the mound trying to start her country to another softball gold medal.

“Before the game I was actually trying to calm down and not let myself overly feel excited about this opportunity to go back to the mound for the Olympics,” she said through a translator. “I was overly thinking.”

The 39-year-old pitcher settled down from a shaky start to allow two hits over 4 1/3 innings in a nearly empty stadium, and host Japan got off to a winning start when the Olympics got underway, beating Australia 8-1 Wednesday. The U.S. defeated Italy 2-0 in the second game of a tripleheader.

Playing about 150 miles north of the main Olympic sites in Tokyo, the teams lined up for the national anthems in a stadium with a listed capacity of 30,000 that had about 50 spectators, presumably team and Olympic officials, plus media.

The first two days of the softball tournament are being played about 40 miles from the site of a 2011 nuclear power plant disaster. The rest of the tournament will be in Yokohama, near Tokyo.

“It's kind of a disappointment," Ueno said. "We wanted to demonstrate our play in front of people of Fukushima, who have made a lot of efforts to reconstruct Fukushima.”

Fans were barred from the Olympics because of the coronavirus pandemic. Many in Japan have questioned whether the Olympics should take place at all with low levels of vaccination in the nation.

“Australia can create its own excitement,” third baseman Stacey Porter said.

Ueno, who won the 2008 gold medal game, struck out seven and threw 85 pitches for the win.

Minori Naito and Saki Yamazaki hit two-run homers off loser Kaia Parnaby and Yu Yamamoto, who had three RBIs, added a two-run drive against Tarni Stepto in the fifth that ended the game under a rout rule.

Ueno started Australia's Michelle Cox off with a ball at 9:02 a.m. at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, beginning an Olympics whose viability has been repeatedly questioned.

It was 88 degrees with 60% humidity for the morning start, which had the sun in the eyes of left-handed batters. The artificial turf made it seem even warmer, and Stepto pitched without a cap.

Ueno forced in a run in the first by hitting Chelsea Forkin with a pitch, her second straight hit batter.

Yamamoto singled in a run in the bottom half and Japan took a 3-1 lead in the third when Naito fouled off a 1-2 changeup, and drove a hanging changeup over the left-center field fence.

Yamazaki reached on a grounder leading off the fourth when Forkin dropped the throw at first, and Fujita drove a 1-0 pitch over the 220-foot fence in left center. Nodoka Harada added a sacrifice fly off Stepto for a 6-1 lead.

Japan is the defending softball gold medalist after upsetting the U.S. in the 2008 final. Softball and baseball were dropped for 2012 and 2016 and restored for this year's Olympics. They already have been dropped for the 2024 Paris Games and are likely to be restored for 2028 in Los Angeles.

Japan coach Reika Utsugi had thought Ueno would be especially ready for the opener.

“She was the reason we that became so strong a team," Utsugi said, "and we were able to dream about winning the gold.”

___

More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Japan tops Australia in softball as delayed Tokyo Games open
Host Japan got off to a winning start when the Tokyo Olympics got underway after a one-year delay, beating Australia 8-1 in softball behind 39-year-old pitcher Yukiko Ueno, who won the 2008 gold medal game against the United States
9:57PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Haiti installs new leader as country mourns slain president
Haiti’s government has installed a new prime minister, while officials mourned assassinated President Jovenel Moïse and arrested at least three police officers implicated in his killing
9:25PM ( 40 minutes ago )
US opioid lawsuits on verge of settlements with 4 companies
The three biggest U.S. drug distribution companies and the drugmaker Johnson & Johnson are on the verge of a $26 billion deal to settle lawsuits brought by state and local governments across the country over the toll of prescription opioids, lawyers suing on behalf of local governments said
9:15PM ( 50 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
For Carli Lloyd, other older Olympians, age is just a number
Older Olympians will be proving that age is just a number in Tokyo
7:16PM ( 2 hours ago )
Pentagon review: What happens if 'nuclear football' is lost?
The Pentagon is taking a rare look at whether it is properly prepared for an emergency in which the portable communications system nicknamed the “nuclear football," which always accompanies the president, is lost or stolen
6:04PM ( 4 hours ago )
Daniels, Corral, Young make trek from California to SEC QBs
Georgia quarterback JT Daniels has long been a believer in fellow former California prep stars Matt Corral and Bryce Young
5:58PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Sports
Haiti installs new leader as country mourns slain president
Haiti’s government has installed a new prime minister, while officials mourned assassinated President Jovenel Moïse and arrested at least three police officers implicated in his killing
9:25PM ( 40 minutes ago )
US opioid lawsuits on verge of settlements with 4 companies
The three biggest U.S. drug distribution companies and the drugmaker Johnson & Johnson are on the verge of a $26 billion deal to settle lawsuits brought by state and local governments across the country over the toll of prescription opioids, lawyers suing on behalf of local governments said
9:15PM ( 50 minutes ago )
Nats GM doesn't plan on having Castro back this season
Washington Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo says he doesn't plan on having infielder Starlin Castro back with the team this season
9:07PM ( 58 minutes ago )
Schools confront more polarization with mask rules for fall
School districts across the country have an important decision to make before fall classes begin: Will students be required to wear masks
8:42PM ( 1 hour ago )
Oakland OKs terms for $12B ballpark but A's aren't happy
The Oakland City Council has approved preliminary terms for a new $12 billion waterfront ballpark project for the Oakland Athletics
8:33PM ( 1 hour ago )