The Tokyo Olympics begin Tuesday California time with three softball games, including a matchup between the U.S. and Italy with both teams having players from Orange County.
There are three players from Orange County on the top-ranked U.S. team — catcher Dejah Mulipola from Anaheim, catcher Aubree Munro from Brea and outfielder Janie Reed from Placentia — and one from Los Angeles County, pitcher Rachel Garcia from Palmdale.
Garcia is among four UCLA alumni on the team along with pitcher Ally Carda, utility player Bubba Nickles and infielder Delaney Spaulding.
Italy, the lowest-ranked team in the six-team Olympic softball tournament, has two players from Orange County — infielders Amanda Fama from Anaheim and Giulia Koutsoyanopulos from Mission Viejo.
The game from Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium in Fukushima, about 150 miles north from Tokyo, will be televised live by cable’s NBC Sports Network beginning at 8 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.
Each of the six teams will play each other during the opening round. The top two teams will play for the gold medal next Tuesday.
Softball is being played at the Olympics for the first time since 2008. In 2005, the International Olympic Committee voted to drop softball from the 2012 Olympic program, falling one vote short of the simple majority from the 105 eligible voters from being retained.
Softball was among six sports added in 2016 to the 2020 Olympics along with baseball, karate, sport climbing, surfing and skateboarding.
Softball was first played in the Olympics in 1996, with the U.S. winning gold medals in 1996, 2000 and 2004. Japan defeated the U.S. in the 2008 gold medal game.
Because of the large number of events, the Olympics customarily holds events before the opening ceremonies, which will begin at 3:55 a.m. Friday PDT and shown live on NBC.
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