The Americans had just given up their first run of the tournament and were two outs away from losing their first game at the Tokyo Olympics when Amanda Chidester stepped up to the plate with two runners –Ally Carda and Haylie McCleney – on base in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Chidester slapped the ball into left field, scoring Carda and McCleney, and giving Team USA the thrilling 2-1 victory.
“In my head, I’m like: Score! Score two! Score two! Score two!” Chidester said. “When I got up and everyone was running out at me, I was like, We did it!”
Monica Abbott was credited with the win after striking out 13 batters. She allowed Australia to score when she walked Jade Wall on an eight-pitch at-bat with the bases loaded in the top of the eighth.
In the bottom of the inning, Carda came on as the automatic runner. McCleney got on base with an infield single. A Janie Reed sacrifice moved the runners over and Chidester came on with the late-game heroics.
“Wow! Incredible softball,” Abbott said. “A lot of tense moments. But you live for these moments. You like to compete in these moments.”
The U.S. will now finish its round-robin schedule with Japan on Monday.
Japan’s 1-0 victory against Canada propelled them back into the gold medal game. The U.S. and Japan will meet for gold regardless of Monday’s outcome.
The gold medal game will take place Tuesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.