TOKYO (Dispatches) - For the U.S. softball team, one long excruciating wait will be followed by another.
Thirteen years after falling to Japan in the gold medal game at the Beijing Olympics, the U.S. endured another frustrating finish here against its chief rival ahead of an uncertain future for its sport.
Yukiko Ueno, the gutsy Japanese ace who outdueled Cat Osterman in 2008, did so again Tuesday night at Yokohama Baseball Stadium, pitching six strong innings during a 2-0 victory in the gold medal game at the Tokyo Olympics.
Japan’s offense continually pressured previously dominant U.S. pitching, and the country’s second consecutive gold medal seemed like destiny after a wild double play to end the sixth inning kept the U.S. scoreless.
With a runner on second base and one out, U.S. slugger Amanda Chidester ripped a line drive toward third baseman Yu Yamamoto. The ball ricocheted off Yamamoto’s forearm and into the glove of shortstop Mana Atsumi, who then doubled off the runner at second base.
Japan then went back to its ace.
After giving up a leadoff single in the sixth inning and departing the game, Ueno returned to start the seventh and retired the side in order after former UCLA star Delaney Spaulding popped out to catcher Haruka Agatsuma to end the game.