Cat Osterman Is Pitching in Her 3rd Olympics, and She's as Dominant as Ever

If you like comeback stories, let us introduce you to Cat Osterman. One of the top pitchers in the world during her long career, Osterman has pitched USA Softball through two Olympic tournaments, but after 2008, she wasn't sure she'd get a chance for a third. Enter the Tokyo 2021 Olympics. Softball is back, and so is Osterman, six years after hanging up her cleats in retirement. It hasn't taken long for Osterman to assert her dominance once again, starting the Americans' first game of the Olympic tournament and pitching a three-hit shutout through six innings before fellow pitching legend and '08 teammate Monica Abbott came on in relief to preserve the win.

That's not all Osterman and Abbott have in common: they're both natural lefties, stand over six feet tall (Osterman is one inch shorter, at 6-foot-2), and dominated the NCAA softball ranks in the same era in the 2000s. But while Abbott continued her playing career through the 2010s, Osterman's retirement and improbable comeback has left her teammates in awe. Back and ready to reclaim gold, Osterman is looking better than ever, and we're ready to come along for the ride. Keep reading for everything you need to know about this softball icon.

Cat Osterman Was a Standout Pitcher For Texas
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Cat Osterman Was a Standout Pitcher For Texas

Osterman burst onto the softball scene as an ace pitcher at the University of Texas — Austin, leading the Longhorns to three Women's College World Series appearances in 2003, 2005, and 2006. Osterman won USA Softball's National Player of the Year three times at Texas (the only player in history to do so) and posted a 0.51 ERA (earned run average) alongside 20 no-hitters in her NCAA career.

Cat Osterman Has Olympic Gold and Silver Medals

Cat Osterman Has Olympic Gold and Silver Medals

Osterman made her Olympic debut in 2004, taking a redshirt season at Texas to become the only collegiate athlete on the team, and, at 21, its youngest member. She won gold that year on a USA team that spanned generations, featuring pitching icons like Lisa Fernandez and Jennie Finch alongside legendary hitters like Jessica Mendoza and Crystl Bustos. Osterman led the team in strikeouts (23) while picking up two wins and a save in Athens.

In the 2008 Olympics, Osterman got off to another hot start, pitching a no-hitter in her first game in Beijing and notching two wins and another save before taking the mound for the gold medal game against Japan. Osterman pitched five innings, but was tagged for three runs, the first she'd given up in her Olympic career. She took her first Olympic loss that day as the US fell 3-1, the team's first defeat in 22 games and the first time the US failed to win Olympic gold in four Games.

The Beijing Games were the last to feature softball, and Osterman recently told The Wall Street Journal that "there was a finality to 2008 that made it sting. It was almost like ending your career on a sour note." With softball back in the Olympics, Osterman now has a chance to claim the ultimate redemption.


Cat Osterman Roomed With Jessica Mendoza at the Olympics

Talk about softball royalty. Mendoza (center in the photo above), a star outfielder known for her hitting prowess, roomed with then up-and-comer Osterman during their time with USA Softball, and Osterman said Mendoza was one of her favorite players on the team during a post-Olympics interview in 2004. Another fun fact? Mendoza, now a baseball analyst with ESPN, is in Tokyo for the 2021 Games, too, covering the Olympic softball tournament.

Cat Osterman Played Pro Softball For 8 Seasons
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Cat Osterman Played Pro Softball For 8 Seasons

Osterman went pro in 2007, playing for the Rockford Thunder of the National Pro Fastpitch League (NPF) in 2007 and 2009 before heading to the USSA Pride for five seasons. She initially retired in 2015 after winning four league titles and six All-NPF team honors. Osterman returned to play for the Scrap Yard Dawgs, which became This Is Us Softball to support racial justice in 2020, as she prepared for her Olympic comeback.


Cat Osterman Coached For 5 Seasons at Texas State

During her playing career and before coming out of retirement, Osterman also spent time in the dugout as a coach, first for three seasons with the St. Edwards Hilltoppers and then as an assistant coach with Texas State from 2015-2020. Before deciding to come back as a player, Osterman told The Wall Street Journal she'd thrown her hat in the ring for a coaching job with USA Softball.


Cat Osterman Is Married With One Stepdaughter

Osterman married her husband, Joey Ashley, in September 2016. The couple and Ashley's daughter, Bracken, live in San Antonio, and Ashley was recently hired as an assistant men's golf coach at the University of Texas — San Antonio.

Cat Osterman Is Known For Her Elite Command
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Cat Osterman Is Known For Her Elite Command

While some of Osterman's teammates, including Monica Abbott, are known more for their high-velocity fastballs, Osterman's dominance comes from her ability to fool hitters with movement, spin, and a deep repertoire of pitches. Osterman notches strikeouts with her drop ball, curveball, and rise ball, placing the ball all over the plate to induce outs.

Cat Osterman Came Out of Retirement For the 2021 Olympics

Cat Osterman Came Out of Retirement For the 2021 Olympics

After initially retiring in 2015, Osterman decided to attempt a comeback after softball was voted back into the Olympics in August 2016. She threw her first bullpen session in 2017, according to The Wall Street Journal, and was encouraged by the movement her pitches still had. She worked her way back to competition form, officially made the US team, then was handed the ball for the first game of the Olympic tournament. It was a fitting bookend: after starting USA Softball's last Olympic game, that heartbreaking loss in Beijing, Osterman took the mound 13 years later for the team's first of the 2021 Olympics. She pitched a 2-0 shutout to lead the US past Italy.

While Osterman is determined to reclaim gold in Tokyo, she said the decision wasn't solely about redemption. "That's a small piece," she explained in a 2019 Instagram post. "The bigger piece was being able to be part of Team USA again, and join the amazing young ladies that were on roster to experience something amazing. It was about the bigger picture."