For the first time since 2000, the U.S. softball team lost the gold at the Olympic games, when they were beaten by Japan 3-1 in the finals last week.
The silver medalists include out lesbian catcher and infielder Lauren Lappin and openly bisexual infielder Vicky Galindo, both of whom came out in an interview with The Advocate earlier this month. Lappin credits Galindo — who says she has been in serious relationships with both men and women — for inspiring her to come out. "[Galindo] seemed very comfortable with her sexuality," Lappin told The Advocate, "which really inspired me to be less guarded and to share with my teammates things that I wouldn’t hesitate to share if I was straight."
In response to the news, U.S. shortstop Natasha Watley told The O.C. Register, "This team is very accepting. We don’t care if you’re purple, green, from another planet. We just don’t care. It’s who you are. It’s no big deal." She joked, "if Lauren went into a hitting slump, then we’d have a problem."
Lappin did not score in the final game (Crystal Bustos scored the only run for the U.S., with a home run in the fourth inning). Although the U.S. team made a good showing in the final, they were undone by outstanding pitching from Japan’s Yukiko Ueno, and excellent fielding by the Japanese team all around (twice, the American team loaded the bases but failed to score). Pinch hitter Vicky Galindo led off with a single in the final inning, but never made it past first base.
Galindo (center) and teammates line up before the final game
Lappin (second from L) and Galindo (second from R) cheer on a teammate
Lappin (bottom, second from R) and teammates cheer Bustos’s home run
Lappin and teammates in the dugout
The stunned Americans were devastated at the loss, but rallied for the silver medal ceremony.
The U.S. team is awarded the silver medal
Softball was recently eliminated from future Olympics, in part because it is widely believed that the U.S. has come to dominate the sport too much. The U.S.’s unexpected loss to Japan may ultimately help get the sport reinstated.
“If this can be an aid to get us back in the Games, then so be it,” U.S. coach Mike Candrea told the Associated Press. “I think this game is very good right now.”