Softball power couple go for Olympic gold and bronze on the same day
The couple met for a pep talk in the athlete dining hall Tuesday morning, reassuring each other before the biggest games of their softball careers.
One would be going for an Olympic bronze medal in the afternoon, the other for gold in the evening.
“We were just going back and forth on kind of staying calm and staying in the game and just keeping it simple,” said Anissa Urtez, an infielder for the Mexican national team who is engaged to U.S. catcher and infielder Amanda Chidester. “It’s just another game; we’ve played these teams before.”
What they experienced over the previous week at the Tokyo Olympics was anything but routine.
News, results and features from The Times’ team of 12 reporters who covered the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Urtez, a Long Beach native who starred at Downey High before going on to play for Utah, homered off legendary Japanese pitcher Yukiko Ueno while helping Mexico advance to the medal round in its first Olympics appearance. The riveting run ended Tuesday at Yokohama Baseball Stadium with a 3-2 loss to Canada in the bronze-medal game.
Meanwhile, Chidester was part of a U.S. team that went unbeaten on the way to the gold medal game against Japan.
When the couple faced one another in round robin play last weekend, they became unlikely rivals.
“We know that our life together has its own identity, and win or lose nothing will change that,” Chidester wrote before the game on Instagram. “While we do step on the field as opponents, we step off as fiancées.”
There was no interaction during the 2-0 U.S. victory, each player’s team allegiance holding firm. Afterward, the couple smiled at one another while their teams waved from across the field.
Urtez started playing for Mexico after her uncle, one of the team’s coaches, encouraged her to try out before the summer going into her junior year of college. She made it.
Urtez met Chidester while playing professionally for the same team in Texas. Last November, Chidester put Urtez in charge of arranging a trip with friends to Horseshoe Bend in Arizona’s Grand Canyon.
One part of the itinerary was known only to Chidester.
“I had no idea that I was planning my own proposal,” Urtez said.
The couple was taking pictures in a secluded area when Urtez turned around to find Chidester on one knee.
Kelsey Stewart hit a walk-off homer to right field to lead off the seventh inning and give the U.S. a 2-1 victory over Japan at the Tokyo Olympics.
“I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ ” Urtez recalled. “It was crazy, but it was such a happy moment.”
The wedding could take place next summer or fall, with Hawaii the likely destination. The couple planned a trip to the tropical islands to scout venues in the coming days.
But first they sought a different paradise. Urtez was permitted to stay at Yokohama Stadium to watch her fiancée go for the U.S. team’s first gold medal in the sport since 2004. That raised the attendance at an otherwise empty stadium to one.
“They’ve got it,” Urtez said before the game. “I trust her, she trusts herself, so I think they’re going to do it.”
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