US beats Australia 3-1 at women's softball worlds

MAKUHARI, Japan (AP) — Monica Abbott had 18 strikeouts and the United States defeated Australia 3-1 on Friday in the playoffs of the women's world softball championship.

Abbott gave up a game-tying solo home run to Stacey Porter in the fourth inning but was solid the rest of the way, facing only seven hitters in the last two innings.

After Porter's homer to right, the defending champions regained the lead in the bottom of the fifth.

With the bases loaded, Delaney Spaulding hit a chopper to third but Porter's throw home went over catcher Carmelle Sorensen and allowed two runners to score.

The U.S. will next face the either Puerto Rico or Japan in the tournament, which also doubles as a qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The winner of the tournament will be awarded an Olympic spot. If Japan wins, the second-place finisher will be granted the Olympic spot because Japan has an automatic berth as host.

Softball and baseball were dropped from the Olympic program after the 2008 Beijing Games but have been restored for 2020.