Japan defeats Australia on softball diamond in first event of Tokyo Olympics

Fifty-six hours before the Olympic flame would be ignited at the Opening Ceremony and 183 miles north, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics officially got underway with a dropball from the pitching circle at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium.

It was fitting that one of the greatest Olympians in Japanese history, Beijing 2008 gold medalist softball pitcher Ueno Yukiko, delivered the opening pitch of her nation’s Olympic Games Tuesday night. She would go on to notch her eighth Olympic win as Japan defeated Australia in five innings, 8-1, in an opening round game to get Japan’s delayed gold medal defense off to an emphatic start.

Ueno worked around some first inning trouble, loading the bases with one out and conceding the first run to Australia on a hit-by-pitch, but escaping without further damage. Japan immediately drew level in the bottom of the first on a Yamamoto Yu RBI single, then the hosts teed off with the long ball.

Naito Minori put Japan ahead in the bottom of the third with a two-run drive to center and Fujita Yamato followed one inning later with a mammoth two-run shot into the Australian bullpen. Then, in the bottom of the fifth, Yamamoto launched Japan’s third home run of the game to put the host nation up by seven with less than two innings to play. By rule, that ended the game.