Jacksonville's Michelle Moultrie receives silver medal in Olympic softball final

Clayton Freeman
Florida Times-Union
United States right fielder Michelle Moultrie (16) makes a catch against Japan for the final out of the second inning in the gold medal game.

Michelle Moultrie is coming home to the First Coast with silver.

The former Mandarin High School outfielder and her United States softball team finished second after losing to host Japan 2-0 in Tuesday's softball championship game of the Tokyo Olympics at Yokohama Baseball Stadium.

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The Americans, who completed the group stage unbeaten, had defeated Japan 2-1 on Sunday behind Kelsey Stewart's game-winning home run in the seventh, but could not solve starter Yukiko Ueno and the Japanese pitching staff in the rematch.

Ueno and reliever Miu Goto combined to hold the Americans to three hits.

“Sometimes it’s just not your day," United States starting pitcher Cat Osterman said. "Unfortunate, it’s not been our day twice now. If you told me this was the ending and I had to redo it, I would do it all over again because this team has heart, has fight."

Japan pulled away with runs in the fourth, an RBI single by Mana Atsumi, and in the fifth, a two-out RBI from Yamato Fujita, both off relief pitcher Ally Carda.

Moultrie made a memorable contribution on defense to the American effort on the night.

Early on, she raced to the wall for an athletic grab of a long drive to right field by Yuka Ichiguchi, denying a certain extra-base hit — quite possibly a home run — to enable the Americans to escape the second inning without damage.

Moultrie led off the sixth inning with a single to spark a potential rally with the United States down 2-0 in the inning, but she was subsequently doubled off second base on a hard infield liner off the bat of Amanda Chidester as the last American threat faded away.

The result is a repeat of the most recent Olympic softball tournament, in Beijing in 2008, when Japan also defeated the United States in the final. Softball was not included in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, and will also be omitted from the 2024 Games in Paris.

Moultrie becomes the first Jacksonville-area player to win a softball medal at the Olympics. She has competed for the U.S. national team for a decade, going back to her career as a walk-on at the University of Florida. 

She follows swimmer Catie Ball (Lee) and track athletes Chandra Cheeseborough and Dannette Young (both Ribault) as women to win Olympic medals after competing in their respective sports at public high schools in Duval County.

Fellow UF standouts on Team USA, starters Aubree Munro and Kelsey Stewart, also received their silver medals.

The USA Today Network's Jeff Metcalfe contributed to this story.