fair.png
Wednesday August 4th, 2021 2:38PM

Japan tops Australia in softball as delayed Tokyo Games open

By Ronald Blum AP Sports Writer
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

FUKUSHIMA, Japan — Host Japan got off to a winning start when the Tokyo Olympics got underway after a one-year delay, beating Australia 8-1 Wednesday in softball behind 39-year-old pitcher Yukiko Ueno, who won the 2008 gold medal game against the United States.

The game was played in a nearly empty stadium. Fans were barred from the Olympics because of the coronavirus pandemic, which caused a one-year delay. Many in Japan have questioned whether the Olympics should take place at all with low levels of vaccination in the nation.

Ueno allowed two hits over 4 1/3 innings and struck out seven, throwing 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 with a ball at 9:02 a.m. before a nearly empty Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, beginning an Olympics whose viability has been repeatedly questioned.

Playing about 150 miles from the main Olympics 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.

It was 88 degrees with 60 percent 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 for a 6-1 off Stepto for a 6-1 lead.

Australia left the bases loaded in the fifth when reliever Miu Goto threw a called third strike past Forkin.

In the second game of the opening tripleheader, the top-ranked United States played No. 9 Italy, and No. 5 Mexico followed against No. 3 Canada.

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.

Most of the approximately 11,000 athletes are in the Tokyo area.

Japan is 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 these Olympics. The already have been dropped for the 2024 Paris Games and are likely to be restored for 2028 in Los Angeles.

  • Associated Categories: Sports
© 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 Wednesday in softball behind 39-year-old pitcher Yukiko Ueno, who won the 2008 gold medal game against the United States...
11:04PM ( 16 minutes ago )
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 ( 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 ( 5 hours ago )
Sports
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 ( 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 ( 5 hours ago )
Alabama, Georgia among SEC powers scoring in transfer portal
The rich got even richer in the Southeastern Conference when the transfer floodgates opened wide
4:33PM ( 6 hours ago )
Two-a-Days: War Eagles' summer focus on retooling offense, defense
A young War Eagles group suffered through a tough 2020 campaign. But with just eight players graduating off of last year's group, and the bulk of their key starters back, they are looking for bigger and better things in 2021...
By Jeff Hart | Video by Seth Chapman
2:04PM ( 9 hours ago )
Keselowski purchases stake in Roush Fenway Racing
Jack Roush put a long-term vision for Roush Fenway Racing in motion Tuesday when the 79-year-old team owner introduced Brad Keselowski as a new partner in the NASCAR team.
By Steve Reed-AP Sports Writer
12:43PM ( 10 hours ago )