FILE – USA Softball pitcher Cat Osterman pitches in an exhibition softball game against USSSA Pride in Oklahoma City, Okla., in this Friday, June 4, 2021, file photo. U.S. coach Ken Eriksen predicts tight competition in softball as the sport returns to the Olympics for the first time since 2008. The 15-woman U.S. roster includes 38-year-old left-hander Cat Osterman, the last holdover from the 2004 gold medal-winning team, and 35-year-old left-hander Monica Abbott, who joined Osterman on the 2008 team. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
- After being absent from the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, Softball returns to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo
- Team USA are heavy favorites at -200, while Japan are listed at +275
- See the tournament structure, preview and odds below
After being left out of the Olympic Games in 2012 and 2016, softball makes its triumphant return in 2021.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics see a pool of six countries vying for gold: Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Mexico and the United States. A single round robin will take place with all six teams in action each game day starting July 20th. The top two teams will play for gold, while the third and fourth place teams will play for bronze on July 27th.
Australia, Canada, Japan and the United States have appeared in all five Olympics where Softball was an event.
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Softball Odds
Odds as of July 20th at DraftKings
The United States are favored, having medaled in all four previous Olympics. They’ve taken home three golds and one silver (2008). Japan were the ones to dethrone the US in 2008. They earned an automatic bid as the host nation. The world rankings see them sitting first and second respectively.
After 13 years, Olympic Softball is back TOMORROW. #Tokyo2020 pic.twitter.com/i1vlCCE4HG
— WBSC ⚾🥎 #Tokyo2020 (@WBSC) July 20, 2021
Canada is ranked third and Mexico fifth, with Mexico beating out Canada for first in the 2019 Softball Americas Qualifier with an 8-0 record. The Canadians finished 7-1. Australia and Italy are ranked eighth and ninth in the world.
USA Seeking Revenge
Even outside of the Olympic cycle, 12 years is a long time. That’s why it’s no surprise that the US brings a squad to Tokyo that has just two members with Olympic experience. They’re big names though: Monica Abbott and Cat Osterman. Osterman actually won gold in 2004.
You know what’s crazy? There still isn’t a better pitching duo than Cat Osterman & Monica Abbott. They are 38 & 35 pitching in the Olympics. My shoulder hurts just thinking about it.
— Kori Henderson (@korilhenderson) July 13, 2021
Despite being the second-oldest player on the team, Abbott is a dominant force who is among the best to ever pitch. Osterman, the oldest member of the team, decided to come out of retirement to compete at the Olympics. Despite that, and the craziness of 2020, she finished first in the player rankings for the Athletes Unlimited softball league.
USA’s roster doesn’t end there though. Rachel Garcia was 2018 and 2019 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. She’s a superstar in the circle and at the plate. Valerie Arioto and Michelle Moultrie have won four-straight World Championships on a deep and experienced squad.
Crazy BetMGM Promo Allows Bettors to Bet $20 on Any Event, and Win $100 Even if Their Wager Loses
Japan Looms Large on Home Soil
Team USA isn’t the only country bringing Olympians back for another go-around however. Yukiko Ueno returns for Japan. She turned in a dominant five-hit, complete game performance in the 2008 Gold Medal Game. Like Abbott and Osterman, she’s still going strong too.
So cool to see Yukiko Ueno pitching to Stacey Porter at the Olympics. Both women are approaching 40 years old and are still two of the best softball players in the world.
Women can do anything at any age.
— Kayla Lombardo (@KaylaLombardo11) July 21, 2021
Eri Yamada, a two-time Olympian, will also be back for Japan. Yamada homered off of Osterman in the 2008 and hit .344 for the tournament.
Canada Can Play Spoiler
While Australia could throw a wrench in the plans of USA and Japan, Canada is the bigger threat at third in the odds.
Danielle Lawrie is another pitcher who came out of retirement for these games. When she returned to National Pro Fastpitch in 2019 after a four year hiatus, she promptly logged the second-best ERA and WHIP of her career. She’ll join Sara Groenewegen in the circle for Canada, forming an intimidating duo.
Playing around with the boys pic.twitter.com/AMCoSm1g9L
— Danielle Lawrie (@daniellelawrie5) July 13, 2021
A favorite for the bronze medal, Canada’s best finish at the games was fourth-place in 2008.
Hard to Look Past Top Two
US coach Ken Eriksen called 2020 the toughest Olympics to prepare for because the teams are so close talent wise. That doesn’t change the fact that the States and Japan are at the top of the pack.
In four Olympics, the Canadians just have one win combined against the two powerhouses. Canada has played the US for gold in each of the past three Pan American Games, winning once. Mexico has never medaled at the competition.
While the States have a stacked roster and revenge on their mind, there’s little value there. Japan is number two in the world by a slim margin, they have plenty of experience, and are motivated to win at home.
The Pick: Japan (+275)
This article contains links to external sports betting services. SBD may receive advertising revenue from these links, however editorial has hand-picked each individual link based on relevance to the article, without influence on the coverage.
Bryan has spent the last decade working in the sports industry. He can be found conducting sideline interviews for SKY Sports and gathering post-match reactions for BBC. The sportcaster’s broadcasts stream on CBC Sports, Game TV, and Premier TV in the UK.