When softball begins this spring at St. Edward’s, the team will be led by a couple of familiar faces from across town.

Former NCAA All-American Lindsay Gardner will coach the Austin-based Hilltoppers, and she will be assisted by Olympic gold-medal winner Cat Osterman. The duo teamed at Texas in the early 2000s to give the Longhorns one of the top teams of the era.

Gardner was St. Edward’s assistant head coach in 2007 and 2008. She returned after a brief stint playing professionally and as serving as a private hitting and fielding instructor in the Austin area.

“It’s been a dream of mine for a while now to get back to St. Edward’s,” said Gardner, who, like Osterman, grew up near Houston.

I told her I don’t want something on the field to come between us.
-- St. Edward’s coach Lindsay Gardner

Gardner and Osterman have played together since 1999, including during their time at Texas and on the U.S. national team.

“We just share this passion and energy and we just feed off each other when we’re on the same team,” Osterman said. “I think it’s just the perfect combination for both of us.”

“I think she’s one of the greatest pitchers ever,” said Gardner, who plans to turn over pitching responsibilities to Osterman. “I’ve played with her since I was a kid and she’s just always been dominant.”

Osterman’s career stats are among the best. She was a three-time national player of the year and a four-time All-American. She holds Texas career records in victories (136), ERA (0.51), shutouts (85) and no-hitters (20).

She has the NCAA record for career strikeout ratio per seven innings (14.35) and was a recipient of the NCAA Today’s Top VIII Award. Osterman was the youngest member of the 2004 gold-medal Athens Olympic Team. She pitched for the U.S. national team from 2001 to 2010 and held a 59-4 record with an 0.38 ERA.

She currently plays professionally, which she plans to continue while at St. Edward’s.

The chance to return home was a lure for Osterman.

“St. Edward’s has always had a good program and it’s in Austin, which is home for me, where I feel the most happy,” she said. “It’s the perfect opportunity because it’s what I like to do. It’s where I love living and it’s with someone (Gardner) that I respect and trust who know I can work with on an everyday basis.”

Although some might be intimidated by the prospect of working with a friend, Osterman said she and Gardner spoke about their relationship and how they would deal with conflict.

“I told her I don’t want something on the field to come between us,” said Gardner. “I told her my friendship with her means too much.”

“There are some friends that I know for a fact who couldn’t be on the same coaching staff because it just wouldn’t work, but when she asked the thought didn’t even cross my mind.”

Typically, Osterman is thinking big.

“Our goal is to turn St. Edward’s into a contender for the title in the Division II ranks, year in and year out,” she said.