FUKUSHIMA, Japan – Watch video highlights of the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020 Softball clash between host country Japan and Australia on Wednesday. The Japanese women thrash their Australian counterparts 8-1 at Fukushima Azuma Stadium behind a throwback performance from their longtime ace Ueno Yukiko, as softball returned to the Olympic Games after 13 years.
Ueno pitched four-plus standout innings for Japan to start the competition as the delayed Games finally kicked amid the same pandemic which postponed the event for a year. Even in the days leading up to the start of competitions, there were doubts over whether it should still be staged, but now that it is well underway, the World Health Organization says this Olympics can be “a celebration of hope” even as COVID-19 cases surge.
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In the opening softball match, Japan brought joy to the home nation, as Ueno dusted off some early rust with the first inning before the 38-year-old got in a rhythm to pitch solid in her remaining innings as the champions won by the mercy rule – since they went up by seven points in the fifth.
Ueno, who revealed to be excited before the start of the game, strike out seven and holding Australia to one earned run on two hits in the first Olympic softball game since Beijing 2008.
“All I felt was excitement before the game”, Ueno said. “Early on I was trying to not get ahead of myself and became too picky.
“So from the second inning on I just let go and stayed aggressive, relying on what I know.
“I just want to make sure I give these Games everything I have to offer, to the very last drop.
“I was determined to grind today. There was no other way for me, being in Fukushima.”
Meanwhile, Australian captain-third baseman Stacey Porter was quick to shower praises on Ueno.
“She was pretty good. Ueno’s a world-class pitcher and one of the best in the world.
“We knew we were going to get her best pitches. She’s a classy athlete and does everything right to be prepared for the game. She was on the money.
“We always knew Japan were going to be tough on day one. I thought we were prepared for it but a few things didn’t go our way”.