Saturday, November 27 2021

Team USA receives their silver medals after the softball gold medal match at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 27, 2021 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan.

Of course, there were times when the extra year “looked like Mount Everest,” said Osterman, “but at the same time, I think it was worth it, regardless of the money outcome. was truly an amazing trip.

While softball is not on the program for the Paris 2024 Olympics, there is a chance it will return for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics. But Osterman is adamant that there won’t be another comeback.

“I don’t want to be 46 doing this,” she said. “I’ll never rule out throwing my name into the coaching pool, but as a player I put on the studs for the last time. I launched a game for the last time.

“The competitiveness in me is still there, but the desire to wake up and train to stay on top of my game has diminished a bit – and when that diminishes even a bit, I know it’s time to focus. on something else. “

Osterman is also happy to retire while still on top.

“I feel like the longer you stay in the game, the more chance you have of (leaving) not being on your own terms,” she said, “whether it’s your talent caught up or a I don’t want to leave with the feeling that I have exhausted my welcome or that I haven’t been able to continue to compete.

She leaves behind a string of superlatives. As an outstanding pitcher at the University of Texas, Osterman was a three-time U.S. National Softball College Player of the Year, four times All-American, and set the NCAA career record for ratio strikeout (14.34). She has had 20 career non-hitting games with seven perfect games for the Longhorns with 2,765 career strikeouts and a career ERA of 0.51.

She made her first Olympic appearance at the age of 21 and said the highlight of her Games career was her eight-set victory over Japan in 2004, which secured the No.1 seed for the American team.

“Just because I was the rookie, I was the youngest, and everyone really believed in me for this game against Japan,” said Osterman, “and so I kind of rode the emotions of everyone and everyone’s belief. “

She threw better than ever in the 3-0 victory.

And the highlight of Osterman’s team, obviously, was winning that gold later in the tournament in Athens. Osterman remembers spending most of the game warming up in the relieving pen as Lisa Fernandez pitched against Australia.

“Lisa came in every round saying, ‘Hey, get ready. I’m like, ‘You’re throwing a gem right now. I don’t think I need to be ready, but I’m ready. ‘”

In the sixth inning, Osterman was still ready, but she went to the dugout because she couldn’t see much of the bullpen. With two outs in the seventh inning, Osterman and the other players were holding hands in anticipation of the win, then realized they would have to spread out so it was easier to jump the fence and rush over. field.

“When this last outing was done it was just an incredible feeling of accomplishment, relief, excitement and – for the first time in my career – to see so much hard work and dedication pay off,” said Osterman.

And yet, she added, “If you had told me 17 years later that I would have been there (in Tokyo), I would have told you you were crazy.”

Cat Osterman and Aubree Munro return to the dugout during the softball gold medal match at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 27, 2021 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan.

Osterman said if softball had never been taken out of the Games, she would have played in 2012 and possibly 2016. However, she said her three-year retirement “gave me a bit of a break that got me going. allowed to be a little cooler on the way back.

However, when Osterman joined the team, she had to choose a new number since number 8 now belonged to Haylie McCleney. Osterman briefly wondered if she should ask McCleney if she could get him back.

“Then I decided – I didn’t retire for myself,” Osterman said. “I did not retire to hopefully help this young generation who thought they would never have an Olympic dream achieve the ultimate goal. I said, ‘A number is a number, I really don’t care.’ “

She asked her family for suggestions for a new number. The obvious answer was 88, but Osterman felt it was too big. His mother said his try number – 38 – was appropriate since he had an 8 and it was Osterman’s third Olympics. With the delay of one year, Osterman celebrated another birthday, so the number also represented his age, which made him even more appropriate.

Osterman started in Team USA‘s opener at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, striking out nine batters in a 2-0 win over Italy. In Game 3 against Mexico, she struck out the last 15 batters she faced in order to claim another 2-0 victory.

She started the gold medal game against Japan, then was substituted in the third set. The United States team ultimately lost 2-0.

“Unfortunately, I had already had a situation like this in 2008, where it was the biggest disappointment of my career at that time,” said Osterman. “This time around, when I was disappointed, it hit me a little differently – where I was disappointed, but it wasn’t so much that I couldn’t appreciate being able to say, ‘You know what ? We are silver medalists and that is something to be proud of because to be honest I would rather be a silver medalist than not a medalist at all. ‘”

She did secure another gold for her trophy, however, as the inaugural Athletes Unlimited season champion in 2020. She also pitched the league’s first strike-free.

“Tokyo was supposed to be the only reason I came back,” Osterman said. “Athletes Unlimited has become a silver lining in the Covid situation. Honestly, I appreciate that because it gave a whole new twist to the sport of softball and all of us individually, but I knew after Tokyo, and obviously Athletes Unlimited had Season 2, that was it.

She added that it was difficult “just leave the field for the last time and get to know the good parts of the game, I’m not going to relive them, but I’m definitely in a much better place than I was really expecting . “

And Osterman isn’t really quitting softball. She will be on staff for the Texas Bombers, an under-18 team, who will coach the travel ball this fall. Osterman also takes on the role of director of softball for a nonprofit called RBI Austin, which helps underserved population and underserved children play baseball and softball while providing academic support and mentorship.

“I’m not going too far,” said Osterman, “but the privacy of playing is going to be separate.”

But not forgotten.

“Cat’s career had an impact on how the game was viewed by women and men,” said US team coach Ken Eriksen. “She left an indelible mark on the game as well as on many people across the country.”

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