Softball made its long-awaited return to the Olympic stage at Tokyo in 2021. After making history as the first women-only Olympic sport in 1996, softball was featured in the Games until 2008.
Cat Osterman helped lead Team USA to an opening-round victory, pitching six shutout innings, allowing only one hit with nine strikeouts. Monica Abbott followed in similar fashion in the Canada game, throwing seven shutout innings allowing just one hit.
The six teams — the United States, Japan, Australia, Canada, Italy and Mexico — will compete in a week-long tournament to take home the fifth Olympic gold medal.
The United States, with a roster made up of many first-time Olympians, will push to win its fourth gold medal in the sport it has dominated since the beginning.
Here is everything to know about softball at the Olympics in Tokyo:
When is the Olympic softball tournament in 2021?
The softball tournament in Tokyo began July 20.
Here is Team USA’s schedule after the wins over Italy and Canada:
- United States vs. Mexico: Saturday, July 24 at 1:30 a.m. ET (Stream)
- Australia vs. United States: Saturday, July 24 at 9 p.m. ET (Stream)
- Japan vs. United States: Sunday, July 25 at 9 p.m. ET (Stream)
After the opening round concludes on July 25, the medal matches will be played on July 27. The bronze medal game will begin at 12 a.m. ET and the gold medal game will start at 7 a.m. ET.
How can I watch the Tokyo Olympics softball tournament?
The Tokyo Olympic softball tournament will be aired on NBC Sports. You will also be able to stream games on NBCOlympics.com, NBC Sports, and Peacock.
More information on how to watch Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics can be found on NBC’s full TV and live streaming schedule that includes 5,000-plus hours of coverage.
Who is on the USA softball team at the Tokyo Olympics?
Despite the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, the United States’ Olympic softball roster that was announced in 2019 remained intact for the rescheduled Games.
Headlining the roster are two veteran pitchers: Cat Osterman and Monica Abbott. Osterman, a two-time Olympian, took home gold with Team USA at the 2004 Athens Olympics and silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Abbott is also a silver medalist.
Twelve members of the United States’ team played on the 2018 World Championship team that qualified them for Tokyo: Abbott, infielder Ali Aguilar, infielder Valerie Arioto, pitcher Rachel Garcia, outfielder Haylie McCleney, outfielder Michelle Moultrie, catcher Aubree Munro, outfielder Janie Reed, infielder Delaney Spaulding and replacement players Taylor Edwards (catcher) and Keilani Ricketts (pitcher). Kelsey Stewart, who had the game-winning, walk-off hit in the championship game against Japan, will also compete for Team USA in Tokyo.
Though not part of the 2018 team, two members of the 2016 World Championship gold medal team will join the Tokyo roster: pitcher Ally Carda and catcher Amanda Chidester.
Additionally, three players are coming off their collegiate careers this year: UCLA’s Garcia and Bubba Nickles and Arizona’s Dejah Mulipola. The third replacement on Team USA’s Tokyo roster is infielder Hannah Flippen.
Which country has the most Olympic gold medals in softball?
The U.S. softball team has been dominant in the Olympic sport since its introduction in 1996. Team USA took home the gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, 2000 Sydney Olympics and 2004 Athens Olympics. It was only during the 2008 Beijing Olympics that the U.S. was defeated by Japan in the gold medal match.
Is Team USA favored to win the women’s softball tournament in Tokyo?
As softball makes its first Olympic appearance since Beijing, Team USA — which won the 2018 Women’s Softball World Championship to qualify for Tokyo — is favored to come out on top again (-223), according to PointsBet. Japan qualified for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics automatically as the host nation but could give the United States a run for its money once again (+160).
Why was softball removed from the Olympics?
After making its debut at the 1996 Atlanta Games, softball, along with baseball, was removed for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. In July of 2005, the International Olympic Committee voted to drop the two sports from the Olympic program at the 2012 London Olympics, citing a lack of popularity. It was the first time since polo in 1936 — 69 years — that a sport was removed from the Games.
The IOC voted in August 2016 to reinstate softball and baseball for the Tokyo Games. While the two sports won’t be included at the 2024 Paris Olympics, they are expected to return again during the 2028 Los Angeles Games.
Editor’s note: All odds are provided by our partner, PointsBet. PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.