Japan beat Australia 8-1 in Olympic softball opener

A trio of two-run homers, including a shot from Minori Naito in the third inning, led Japan to an 8-1 softball victory over Australia on Wednesday in the first round of the postponed Tokyo Olympics in pandemic case.

Only buzzing cicadas and polite applause from a few hundred employees were heard as gunfire cleared the fence after spectators were banned from the stadium amid the lush hills of Fukushima due to the increase of COVID-19 infections in Japan.

The match ended after five innings due to a leniency rule. Yamato Fujita, a two-way star as a pitcher and hitter, and Yu Yamamoto hit the other home runs for Japan, while pitcher Yukiko Ueno was sharp, allowing just one earned run and striking out seven catches in 4 innings. job. Yamamoto’s homerun in the fifth inning ended the game due to the leniency rule.

Players standing along the benches in the scorching sun – 30 degrees Celsius in the middle of the game – yelled at the batters all morning and were easy to hear given the lack of spectators, making the game feel like Little League.

Six competing softball teams will face off once in six days before the top four head to bronze and gold medal games.

Taylah Tsitsikronis of Australia and Minori Naito of Japan in action during their softball game in Fukushima on Wednesday |  REUTERS
Taylah Tsitsikronis of Australia and Minori Naito of Japan in action during their softball game in Fukushima on Wednesday | REUTERS

The Olympics and Japanese officials continued the Games despite opposition in the country to host more than 11,000 athletes and the staff and media accompanying them amid the pandemic.

Two more softball games as well as the first six women’s soccer games are scheduled for later Wednesday. The opening ceremony is Friday.

It wasn’t a perfect start. Although the rules require one, a chalk throwing circle was not set until the fourth inning and a scoreboard did not work during the first half.

The Olympics abandoned softball as a sport after 2008. But it was revived for these Games in Japan, where about 400,000 people play the centuries-old sport. He won’t be back until at least 2028.

Japanese starter Yukiko Ueno throws in the first heat.  |  AFP-JIJI
Japanese starter Yukiko Ueno throws in the first heat. | AFP-JIJI

The Japanese team are aiming for their second consecutive gold medal and fourth in a row, with the United States positioning itself as their main rival. Australia are aiming for their fifth medal in as many chances as their first gold.

The first two days of games take place at a baseball stadium in Fukushima, an area hard hit by the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster.

After the Beijing Olympics in 2008, a softball-specific venue, a temporary outfield fence, and an electronically lowered pitcher’s mound for the sport in Fukushima drew the contempt of fans. But the coaches called the pitch excellent and said they were grateful for the continued rejuvenation of Fukushima.

To provide a semblance of supporters, the halls of the stadiums, including the one in Fukushima, were lined with young peach trees and other plants bearing messages from local children urging athletes to “go for the gold”.

Japanese and Australian players line up for the national anthems ahead of their match on Wednesday in Fukushima.  |  AFP-JIJI
Japanese and Australian players line up for the national anthems ahead of their match on Wednesday in Fukushima. | AFP-JIJI

In a time of both disinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing you can help us tell the story well.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

PHOTO GALLERY (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Add a Comment