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Team Japan celebrates Tuesday after defeating the U.S. softball team 2-0 and winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

Japan defeated its main softball rival 2-0 to win the gold medal on Tuesday, as the sport returned to the Tokyo Olympics after a 12-year absence.

Why it matters: Softball is back in the Olympics, but its future remains uncertain, with the game not scheduled to be part of the next Olympics in Paris and questionable for the following Games in Los Angeles.

Here are some photos from Tuesday's action and the rest of the tournament:

Outfielder Janie Reed leaps over the fence to steal a sure home run from Team Japan in the sixth inning of Tuesday's gold medal game. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios
Japan's Yamato Fujita held Team USA without a hit for the first five innings at the Tokyo Olympics on July 26. Photo: ina Fried/Axios
Kelsey Stewart, #7 of Team USA hits a walk-off home run to win the game 2-1 in the seventh inning against Japan on July 26. Photo: Yuichi Masuda/Getty Images
A bucket of softballs used during the Tokyo Olympics. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios
Kelsey Stewart #7 of Team United States jumps on home plate after hitting a walk-off home run in the seventh inning against Team Japan on July 26. Photo: Yuichi Masuda/Getty Images
The U.S. plays Mexico at Yokohama Stadium during the Tokyo Olympics. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

Go deeper

In photos: Cyclo-cross World Cup in Fayetteville

Raylyn Nuss of USA at the begining of the elite women's race. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios

Worth here with a few thoughts and pics from yesterday's World Cup Cyclo-cross held in Fayetteville.

My thought bubble: This may be the most underrated sport in the U.S.

  • Yes, it rained. And yes, it was muddy, and yes even a little cold at the end.

But this is a good, fun time for all ages. There's drama, showmanship, fierce athletic grit, and my oh my, can these women and men ride bikes.

  • There's a level of camaraderie among those watching I haven't seen in another sport. It was probably the mud.
  • As I heard one spectator shout at the end of the last race: "We should do this every Wednesday!"

The bottom line: Start planning now to attend the 2022 Union Cycliste Internationale World Championship held in Fayetteville Jan. 28–30.

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.