Amanda Chidester, Monica Abbott lead Team USA to gold medal softball game

Amanda Chidester, Monica Abbott lead Team USA to gold medal softball game

Ace pitcher Monica Abbott struck out 13 and third baseman Amanda Chidester provided a walk-off, two-run single to lead Team USA past Australia on Sunday in extra innings and into softball’s gold medal game at the 2020 Summer Games.

Abbott allowed just three hits and one run over eight innings to lead Team USA to the 2-1 triumph at Yokohama Baseball Stadium in Yokohama, Japan.

Center fielder Haylie McCleney led off the bottom of the first with a triple, but Team USA couldn’t bring her in for an early edge.

Abbott and Australia pitcher Tarni Stepto kept the game scoreless through seven innings, which forced the extra frame.

Catcher Belinda White started the eighth on second base for Australia, as part of Olympics extra-innings rules. She moved over to third when outfielder Leigh Godfrey bunted off Abbott in the first at-bat of the inning. Abbott followed with back-to-back walks to third baseman Stacey Porter and first baseman Taylah Tsitsikronis to load the bases for Australia.

The Team USA star pitcher struck out right fielder Chelsea Forkin for the second out of the eighth, but then walked the next batter to give Australia a 1-0 lead.

Team USA catcher Aubree Munro started the bottom of the eighth on second base, but was replaced by pinch runner Ally Carda. McCleney hit a leadoff single for Team USA to start the rally. Left fielder Janie Reed followed with a sacrifice bunt, which advanced Carda to third base and McCleney to second base.

Chidester then stepped into the box to face Stepto. The Team USA third baseman smacked the first pitch she saw through the infield between second and third base. The hit allowed Carda and McCleney to score and won the game for the Americans.

McCleney went 2-for-2 with a run scored for Team USA. Chidester went 1 for 4 with two RBIs. Stepto allowed five hits, two runs and one earned run in 7 1/3 innings for Australia.

The win improved Team USA to 4-0 in the six-team, round-robin tournament. Team USA battles Japan in its final first-round game at 9 p.m. EDT Sunday in Yokohama. The Americans also face Japan in the gold medal game at 7 a.m. EDT Tuesday in Yokohama, regardless of Sunday’s outcome.

Team USA’s final two games air on USA and NBCSN, respectively.