Japan down US to claim softball gold

Japan celebrated their Olympic softball gold medal by tossing coach Reika Utsugi in the air.
Japan celebrated their Olympic softball gold medal by tossing coach Reika Utsugi in the air.

Hosts Japan have won their second straight Olympic gold medal in softball by beating the United States 2-0, thanks to two-way player Yamato Fujita's bat, ace Yukiko Ueno's arm and all-around sharp defensive play.

Tuesday night's result in Tokyo left the US with the silver medal, a repeat of 13 years earlier, when Japan stunned them in the most recent prior edition of Olympic softball.

Canada earlier took bronze by defeating Mexico 3-2.

Ueno allowed just two hits over six innings and exited the game to a standing ovation from Canada and last-place Italy, both of whom watched the game from the cavernous stadium's top rows.

Fujita had two hits and a hand in both runs, scoring the first and driving in the other.

US pitchers Cat Osterman and Monica Abbott pitched four and one-third scoreless innings. But Ally Carda, who followed in relief of Osterman, gave up three hits and walked one, allowing the base runners that led to Japan's scores.

Earlier on Tuesday, the sun came out to shine on Canada's victory celebration after a drizzle-soaked bronze medal game.

"A dream come true," said pitcher Jenna Caira after the win that brought her country its first ever Olympic medal in the sport.

Canada benefited from a bunt single and a fielding error by Mexico, making their debut in the event, to jump ahead 2-0.

Mexico tied the contest before Kelsey Harshman drove in the game-winning run in the fifth inning on a sacrifice fly off of Danielle O'Toole, who pitched the entire game for Mexico.

Softball will not return to the Olympics until at least 2028.

Australian Associated Press