Cat Osterman, a two-time U.S. Olympian, three-time National Player of the Year and four-time All-American pitcher, felt quite the throwback as she relived one of her greatest moments as a collegiate athlete.
Osterman watched the 2005 version of herself when she joined me remotely to stream parts of her 19 strikeout, four-hit performance against Arizona in a 2005 Women's College World Series elimination game. That's the game where her 19th strikeout ended the game and turned into a celebration that became a classic college sports moment (more on that below).
Osterman recently ended a successful six-year stint as an assistant coach at Texas State. Bobcats pitchers allowed only 36 earned runs in 158.1 innings in the shortened 2020 season. She is a member of Team USA and will take part in the next summer Olympics, which are scheduled for July 2021 in Tokyo.
Here are the most vivid memories and her impressions from that outstanding performance:
1. “I was chewing gum, and I never did that. I have no clue who let me go out on the mound with gum, because I am chomping.”
Osterman laughed as she watched herself on the mound working on a good-sized wad of gum. You can see that in the clip below, which starts at the same moment she's watching:
2. "It was so hot. I mean 100-degrees hot"
After the fifth inning, Osterman said, her jersey was no longer orange — it was the darkest burnt orange you could imagine. Osterman was not wrong about the weather, either. Maybe it wasn't over 100 degrees, but it was 83 degrees, and boy was it humid. According to this historical weather data, the average humidity on June 5, 2005, was approximately 82 percent, reaching as high as 94 percent at some points of the day. Now add a long-pants softball uniform in the middle of the circle and it probably did feel like 100 degrees to Osterman.
3. “We had played Arizona enough in my career, and I felt confident against an Arizona team.”
Osterman and the Longhorns faced elimination from the WCWS and had to face a familiar foe, Arizona. Before this matchup, Texas was 2-1 against Arizona in the years that Osterman played (Texas was 5-3 vs. Arizona during Osterman's entire college career). With Osterman a lefty pitcher, Arizona coach Mike Candrea had told her often that he had “too many lefty hitters if they ever had to play against each other.”
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4. “There was no way in my mind we were losing this game, I was going to do everything possible to keep us in the game.”
Osterman recalled coming off a game against Michigan where she didn’t pitch her best. For the first time in 30 starts, Osterman was pulled out of the game early after allowing three earned runs on six hits while striking out 12 in 5.2 innings.
They were also visitors against Arizona, which isn’t her favorite situation as a pitcher, but she was not going to let her team lose this game.
5. She was "in the zone" in the dugout.
It was a long game, it was hot, and she wasn’t into cheering. Osterman knew she had work to do and wanted to focus on that. She recalled being able to recognize when she is struggling physically and mentally, and she used those moments in the dugout to regroup. In fact, the camera often showed her staring off into space, which Osterman explained was her just “staring at a blade of grass.”
6. Kristie Fox came up to bat, and Osterman threw a back-door curve that was called a strike. Fox disagreed.
Osterman had a vivid memory of this happening. She pointed out this Kristie Fox moment before she even got to it during the rewatch. Osterman said Fox and her catcher got into it about the call, and “it was funny.” Fox ended up walking that at-bat because Osterman attempted to throw that same back-door curve again, and it didn’t work as planned.
7. She used a mix of everything on the mound
Osterman recalled having to change her game plan to incorporate more rise-balls. Osterman is well-known as a down-ball pitcher, so those rise-balls kept the opponents off balance.
8. She didn’t remember having bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th inning, only up by one.
Osterman said she honestly thought there was no one on base in this moment, and she was racking her brain about it while watching. Either way, she left those three players stranded and finished off the game right then and there.
9. The squat and fist-pump celebration following the last out of the game is her favorite photo and probably memory both at the World Series and in a uniform.
Osterman and Megan Willis, her catcher, were calling their own game at this point. Their plan was to go back to the curve ball when things got tough. She threw that final pitch, and as soon as she saw the batter swing, she just said, “YES!” Osterman said the squat and the fist pump were a result of her feeling, “Oh my gosh the game is finally over.” They had won the battle.
Here are Cat Osterman's college stats: