After spending over a decade away from playing the sport that brought her international fame, Texas State’s assistant softball coach Cat Osterman has brought her talents back in the circle this summer in her former role as pitcher for Team USA.
The team braved the sweltering heat to bring back three gold medals in the USA Softball International Cup, the Pan American Games and the Japan Cup earlier this month.
Team USA’s first gold of the summer came in the USA International Cup in Columbus, Georgia in early July. In one of the first showcases of Osterman’s talents since coming back, she came in hot, pitching two 12-strikeout games and leading the team to three victories. In the team’s first test against No. 8 China, Osterman pulled off a shutout and five 1-2-3 innings for a 1-0 Team USA win.
Osterman kept momentum and had another shutout game in 6.2 innings against No. 6 Chinese Taipei to secure another victory, and the pitcher started for another comeback 2-1 Japan win to take home the gold and finish the tournament. Osterman allowed only one run and one walk for the entire tournament and said that’s when it all started to come together.
“When we got to Georgia, the first game I threw was against China and I felt pretty good there,” Osterman said. “That was the first time everything was clicking. Then we played Taipei, which was one of the TV games that a lot of people saw, and I really was clicking on all cylinders. Then I started the gold medal game (against Japan) and even in those three innings I felt like I was close to 90-95% of what I am capable of, in my opinion, and I felt really good.”
At the Pan American Games, Osterman once again proved herself, striking out 13 hitters in a USA 6-0 victory against Puerto Rico. The United States finished the tournament winning their second gold medal of the summer.
In the Japan Cup, Osterman continued to bend hitters to her will, showing her impressive skill set by coming out of the bullpen and securing the win for Team USA in the third game and getting the win after striking out four batters in 3.1 innings. In the title game, Osterman again came to save the day, securing another win against Japan with 2 innings of relief work with three strikeouts and only allowing one hit for a 3-2 final.
Osterman and Team USA racked up passport stamps and travel stickers this summer, playing anywhere from Chicago, Illinois and Columbus, Georgia to Peru and Japan. Osterman said this was just another day on the job for her on the team which previously brought her to destinations such as the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
“It wasn’t my first time (in Japan),” Osterman said. “I’ve traveled there multiple times with Team USA in my ten years prior to playing this summer.”
Osterman has received nothing but support from fans and the softball community as she returns to Team USA.
“I don’t think I had a performance this summer that you could question if I (can) still do this or not.” Osterman said. “When I announced that I was coming back in October of 2018, I expected a few more people to question it or say ‘you’ve already done it, let someone else have a chance’, (but) I could count on one hand how many were negative.”
Now back at Texas State, Osterman gets to slow down a bit before having to juggle training with Team USA and helping Ricci Woodard and the Bobcat softball team get back to the top of the mountain.
“I love being around our girls, obviously, and getting to share how the summer went with them,” Osterman said. “It was fun that I got to see quite a few of them come see (Team USA) play our exhibitions in Houston.”
After a summer where Osterman was as good as they come, she now has plenty of new tips and tricks to help her coach her team in the future.
“Getting back in the circle refreshes me on the mental and emotional struggles you go through,” Osterman said. “Being able to not use examples from three of four years ago but from three weeks ago and talk to them about it, being able to get back on that level of ‘what we think is easy really isn’t’. We talk a lot about buying into the process. As much as I preach it, I had to learn how to do it again this summer because I wanted to be able to be at my peak as quickly as possible.”
After going all over the world, one of the biggest things Osterman said she is looking forward to is taking a few weeks to settle down.
“The first week (of sleeping in my own bed) is great,” Osterman said. “It’s one of those things where you go from hotel to hotel, and roommates and time zones. Consistency is always nice.”
Next up for Osterman is a balancing act between work and play as she coaches the Bobcats in their 2020 season and prepares for her own performance in the 2020 Olympics this summer.