Monica Abbott strikes out 13 to lead U.S. at women's softball worlds

NARASHINO, Japan -- Monica Abbott pitched six scoreless innings as the United States beat Mexico 5-2 on Friday in its opening game of the women's softball world championship, a qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Abbott struck out 13 batters while giving up just three hits and three walks in a 99-pitch outing at Akitsu Stadium.

Haylie McCleney gave the defending champions the lead with a two-run homer to right in the bottom of the third inning. Kelsey Stewart hit an RBI triple in the sixth and Janette Reed drove in two more runs on a single to left.

Mexico staged a late rally with two runs in the seventh before Kelly Barnhill came in to record the final out for the save.

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

In other games on Friday, Canada beat Britain 7-0, Australia overpowered Venezuela 7-1 and Taiwan thrashed South Africa 21-0 in four innings.

Japan, which beat the United States to win the gold medal in Beijing, opened with a 9-0 win over Italy on Thursday.

Softball and baseball were dropped after the 2008 Beijing Olympics but have been added to the program for 2020.