Abbott's 13 strikeout, 8-inning gem keeps USA softball unbeaten

Abbott's 13 strikeout, 8-inning gem keeps USA softball unbeaten
Posted at 10:37 PM, Jul 24, 2021

A classic pitchers' duel on Saturday at Yokohama Baseball Stadium saw Australia take unbeaten Team USA to the limit, but Monica Abbott's 13-strikeout night helped the Americans walk off in the bottom of the eighth to move to 4-0 and move closer to the gold-medal game.

The teams combined for just six hits through seven innings, three each, with Australia's Tami Stepto striking out three in forcing the U.S. to extra innings for the first time this tournament.

While runs have been hard to come by for the Americans, scoring five through their first three matches, their pitching has been exceptional and Abbott spun a gem against the Australians.

Abbott struck out 11 through seven innings and pitched into the eighth in keeping a zero in the runs allowed column for the tournament.

That's when the international tiebreaker applies to the game, and Australia started with a runner on second in the eighth and saw a walk and an intentional walk load the bases.

Abbott got her 12th strikeout to put two outs on the board, but Jade Wall fouled off two pitches with a full count before Abbott walked in the first run of the game. She'd get strikeout No. 13 to finish the inning.

Now it was on the Americans to take advantage of starting an inning with a runner in scoring position, which they did when Haylie McCleney reached on an infield hit.

That was her fourth time on base in a game that saw precious few reach, so it was fitting that McCleney scored the winning run on Amanda Chidester's walk-off 2-RBI hit.