Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
USA Softball Falls in Final
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: August 21, 2008
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Aug. 21, 2008

BEIJING -- Yukiko Ueno held the U.S. to five hits and Japan scored a run in three different innings to down Team USA, 3-1, on Thursday evening in China.

With the victory, Japan has become the first team other than the U.S. to win Olympic gold in the sport since its inception into the games in 1996. The American win streak was halted at 22, as was the run for a fourth-straight gold in the last Olympic softball game until at least 2016.

Ueno (5-1) showed great endurance, pitching three complete games in two days, with two of the games going into extra innings. She was defeated by the U.S. on Wednesday morning in nine, then had to defeat Australia in 12 on the same day just to get to the gold medal match.

Cat Osterman (3-1) gave up two runs on three hits and, after striking out nine, was replaced by Monica Abbott in the top of the sixth. Abbott gave up the final run, unearned, in the seventh, finishing the game with three strikeouts.

The U.S. had a chance to score in the bottom of the first when the bases were loaded with one out, but a fielder's choice nabbed Caitlin Lowe at home, and Andrea Duran popped out to end the threat.

In the Japan third, Masumi Mishina smashed a leadoff double and scored after a sacrifice hit and a single to open the scoring, 1-0.

An inning later, Eri Yamada nailed a leadoff home run to widen the margin to 2-0 in favor of Japan.

Crystl Bustos followed suit with a jack of her own to cut the deficit in half in the bottom frame of the fourth, 2-1.

But that was all the scoring the U.S. could muster as Ueno shut down the U.S. attack, including a sixth inning where Lowe found herself on third again with one out but was unable to score after a pop-up to the shortstop and a groundout ended the inning.

After two errors in the top half led to another run for Japan, Vicky Galindo pinch-hit in the last chance at-bats for the Americans and singled to lead off. But a running catch on a foul pop-up, a lineout to third and a groundout by Lowe ended the U.S. reign at the top of the softball world, 3-1.

Team USA outscored their opponents in a record-breaking fashion of 58-5 in the tournament and finished with a record of 8-1, and the silver medal.

Osterman tallied the only L in the Olympics for the U.S.

UA alumna Lowe had two hits in the contest, while fellow Wildcat Lovieanne Jung went 0-2.

Notes: In a show of symbolism, some members of the United States left their cleats at home plate following the conclusion of the final Olympic softball game until at least the 2016 games.