Cat Osterman has two Olympic medals and one of the most impressive resumes in her sport. That didn’t stop her from crying when she learned she’d made the 2019 USA Softball roster.
“I am not even too proud to say I bawled like a baby,” Osterman told ESPN. “I just cried.”
On Monday, USA Softball announced the 18 players who will compete in tournaments and events in the next few months before the roster is trimmed to 15 for the Pan American Games this summer.
Osterman, the youngest member of the gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic team in 2004, and Monica Abbott, Osterman’s teammate four years later in Beijing (and the youngest member of that team), are the only two with Olympic experience. The roster includes 13 members of the team that won the WSBC World Championship last summer (including Abbott), qualifying the U.S. for the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Osterman and Abbott are two of the most accomplished women in softball: Abbott, 33, pitched a perfect game in an 8-0 victory over the Netherlands at the 2008 Beijing Games, where the U.S. finished with a silver medal. In 2016, the Salinas, California native signed the first $1 million contract in the National Pro Fastpitch League with the Scrap Yard Dawgs (the Texas-based team is now called Scrap Yard Fast Pitch and competes independently).
Osterman, 35, retired in 2015. But in October 2018, she announced her return to the sport, hoping to vie for a spot on the 2020 Olympic team. Currently a pitching coach at Texas State, she had her doubts about coming back to high-level competition: “I struggled in some parts [of the tryout] and felt like I was back to my old self in parts,” she told ESPN. “When you haven’t seen a hitter in a game situation in more than 1200 days, it’s going to take some getting used to.” But Osterman, who pitched in the 3-1 loss to Japan in the 2008 Beijing final, felt she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to compete for another Olympic spot. “Plain and simple, there’s unfinished business,” she posted on social media when announcing her comeback.
Selection to the 2019 roster does not guarantee players a spot on the Olympic team. USA Softball will conduct separate selection trials in the fall.
The sport will return to the Olympics for the first time since 2008. U.S. women won three straight gold medals from 1996 to 2004 before losing to Japan at the Beijing Games.
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