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.
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.
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.
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.
CANADA 7, AUSTRALIA 1
Jenn Salling and Erika Polidori hit early two-run doubles, Australia left the bases loaded in each of the first two innings, and Canada improved to 2-1 behind 5 2/3 innings of shutout relief from Jenna Caira and Lauren Regula, the 39-year-old sister of retired All-Star outfielder Jason Bay.
Canada starter Sara Groenewegen walked Jade Wall with the bases loaded in the first, then escaped further trouble when she threw a called third strike past Michelle Cox and fanned Rachel Lack.
Caira (1-1) allowed two hits in 4 2/3 innings, relieving with the bases loaded in the second after Wall allowed Taylah Tsitsikronis’ bases-loaded drive to deep left to drop just foul.
Caira started with nine straight outs. Tsitsikronis fouled off five 0-2 changeups, then struck out on an outside dropball, and Chelsea Forkin hit an inning-ending liner to first.
Regula pitched a 1-2-3 seventh and has thrown 2 1/3 scoreless innings.
Ellen Roberts (0-1) lasted one-third of an inning, giving up three runs — one earned — one hit and two walks as the Spirit fell to 1-2.
Throwing errors by Australia third baseman Stacy Porter and Forkin at first led to four unearned runs.
Godfrey’s error and Salling’s double put Canada ahead 3-1 in the first. Forkin misfired the ball into left field trying for a forceout in the three-run second, allowing another run to score. Polidori’s double off Gabrielle Plain made it 6-1, and Emma Entzminger added an RBI single in the fourth.
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