Team USA’s thrilling play at the plate saves run, gives them second Olympic softball victory

Team USA softball pulled out a thrilling 1-0 victory against Canada on Thursday at the Tokyo Olympics.

The Americans were leading 1-0 in the sixth inning when Monica Abbott walked Jen Gilbert to start the frame. Sara Groenewegen stepped up to the plate and lined a pitch into the right-center field gap.

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Haylie McCleney fielded the ball and threw it to the cut-off fielder Ali Aguilar. She fired the ball to catcher Aubree Munro, who tagged pinch-runner Joey Lye out at the plate.

The incredible play took the wind out of Canada’s sails and helped the U.S. get the victory.

“It’s fun to be on the mound to watch that,” Abbott said. “I don’t want to give up a hit like that, but, man oh man, it took a lot of confidence in me on our defense.”

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Abbott got the win and only allowed one hit.

U.S. coach Ken Eriksen said the relay drill was one of the first the team did in practice.

“That was the first drill that we did in 2011 and what we do every single year on the first day of practice,” he said.

Amanda Chidester’s RBI single in the fifth inning off of Jenna Caira was all the U.S. needed to win.

The U.S. is in pursuit of a gold medal after having lost to Japan in the last gold medal softball game the Olympics saw in 2008.

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The U.S. has Mexico next on its schedule, set for Saturday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.