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Softball Olympic Games 2020 - Official Payoff

Japan celebrates softball gold medal. Ueno: "Playing on home soil means a lot of pressure"

Japan celebrates softball gold medal. Ueno: "Playing on home soil means a lot of pressure"
27/07/2021
After the gold medal game, Japan's head coach Reika Utsugi said, "only Ueno could have done this". The winning pitcher admitted feeling a lot of pressure and praised 20-year old reliever, Miu Goto, for stepping in the sixth. USA coach Ken Ericksen congratulated Japan and said, "it was not our day."

Japan defeated the United States, 2-0, in the final and repeated as the softball Olympic gold medalist. Japan became the first country to earn 10 gold medals in the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Japan scored the go-ahead run against Ally Carda in the fourth thanks to an infield hit by Mana Atsumi, who beat the throw to first with a headfirst slide. an RBI-single by Yu Yamamoto made it 2-0 in the fifth.
Miu Goto relieved starter Yukiko Ueno to get out of the sixth and accomplished the task with relevant help from her infield. Shortstop Mana Atsumi turned a line drive by Amanda Chichester into a double play after it had bounced off the wrist of Yu Yamamoto at third.
Ueno headed back to the pitching rubber to get the three final outs.

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"This was really something only Ueno could do," commented Japan's head coach Reika Utsugi. "To be honest, I was scared for a week. The Nation's support has been a great help to us. I am filled with gratitude."

"This was different from the previous gold medal. Playing on home soil came with a huge amount of pressure," said Yukiko Ueno, also the winning pitcher in the Beijing 2008 final. "I went through a lot over the past 13 years to be able to take the mound here. And with that in mind, I wanted to stay out there as long as I possibly could."

"I was on edge, because I was too excited," said the 20-year-old Miu Goto. "The atmosphere was different from my previous four games. I was really nervous in my first game, and tonight I was even more so."

"Goto looked pale and at the end of her rope but still doing her best," added Ueno. "That inspired me to think I could step back and finish it. Thanks to her, I could go back out and execute until the end."

"Our team did a tremendous effort tonight," commented USA head coach Ken Ericksen. "It wasn't our day, we had some bad luck. At the same time, you have to credit Japan for playing a very good game. Ueno was very aggressive, their offence created a lot of traffic on the base paths. It was a typical Japan-USA, very tight till the end. It was unfortunate that Yamamoto stuck her arm into a hard line drive in the sixth and this way started a double play."

"Obviously we are a bit disappointed," added Cat Osterman, who had also started the final in Beijing. "You get to the gold medal game and you have your eyes on that prize. At the same time, this was a tremendous Olympic Games and the goal in the long run is to not overlook everuthing we accomplished on the way to the gold medal game."

Earlier in the day, Canada defeated Mexico, 3-2, in the third place game and earned their first ever softball Olympic medal. Danielle Lawrie pitched 2.1 innings in reliefe and earned the bronze-medal win.
Canada got an early lead on Mexico's Danielle O'Toole. Emma Entzminger hit a 2-single to put Canada ahead in the bottom of the second. Mexico tied it in the top of the fifth on a base hit by Brittany Cervantes. In the bottom half of the frame Canada put Janet Leung at third on an infield hit and a couple of bunts and Kelsey Harshman sent her home with a sacrifice fly to left.

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Jenna Caira, Danielle Lawrie announced their retirement from the National Team just after the game.

"There's going to be some new faces coming along that will have to build their own culture and identity," commented Canada's head coach Mark Smith. "I'd like to think the example we have set of what our country is capable of when they truly play like a team. Ours was a team effort. Everybody was playing as an equal. As a coaching staff, we simply try to set the stage, step out of the way and let them lead themselves."

Smith added: "I think we deserved to play for gold, but unfortunately it didn't work out."

"It's great to be a part of these moments," said Kelsey Harshman, "but these moments aren't possible without those who play next to you. We as a team wanted to take a moment to relive this moment, think about all the stuff we've overcome to get to this moment, to be able to relive that moment over and over."

"I am really proud of this team and the position we have now in the sport," said Mexico's head coach Carlos Bernaldez. "We were 20-something in WBSC World Rankings, and now we are No.5. I think from now on, Mexico will be of relevance in the world of softball."

"I think it was a huge honour to be part of the Mexican team in their first Olympics," commented Danielle O'Toole. "This is obviously the best experience of my life. The rest of the team feels the same way. Hopefully, now people know who we are."