Sometime after I graduated college (I graduated in 2002) I was sitting around flipping through the TV channels on a Saturday Afternoon. Much like many things on cable, there was nothing on worth watching. I happened to pass through ESPN and they had women’s college softball on, so I decided to stop and check out a few innings.
I never made it past that channel. I was hooked until the end of the game.
There standing in the pitcher’s mound was a tall superhero, striking out batters right and left from the University of Texas. Not only was she dominating the opposing team, she was also very beautiful and conducted herself with class on the mound. Her name was Cat Osterman.
For anyone that follows softball or sports, Osterman became a legend in the softball world (yes the word “legend” is used way too much but she well deserves the name in this case). Many people my age may think of Jennie Finch when asked to name a softball player, but this generation may have been brought up on Cat Osterman.
After watching that game I became a fan of women’s softball and started having my favorite players (which were Osterman and Arizonia Wildcat Caitlin Lowe). I started to watch every game I could get access to, especially when it came to the College World Series. I even got printed in the USA Today in 2008 when I wrote about how harmful it was to female athletes when the Olympic Committee decided to remove the sport from their Olympic Events.
( The article can be read on USA Today linkhttp://usatoday30.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20080827/letfeat27.art.htm )
Osterman pitched her last game Monday Night as she announced her retirement. Although it was a losing effort, it takes nothing away from the legacy she has had on the sport. Here are a few stats to show it:
3 Time Big 12 Female Athlete of the Year, (the only athlete male or female to get that honor more than once), 4 Time Big 12 Conference Pitcher of the Year, 4 Time All American, 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist, 2008 Silver Olympic Medalist, 1st Overall pick for National Pro Fastpitch League (NPF) and a 2012 University of Texas Hall of Famer.
This is only some of the achievements she has had, as well as being Champion in the NPF and a commentator for ESPNU, on top of getting her Master’s Degree.
Caitlin Lowe is also retired with an impressive career too , being in both Olympic Medal Teams with Cat and was 2006 and 2007 College World Champion and 3 Pro Titles. She has many records for the Arizona Wildcats, including leader in stolen bases, and Top 10 in hits, triples and runs. And she graduated college too.
I had the honor in 2008 to see Osterman and Lowe when the National Team was going around to gear up for the Olympics by playing some of the Pro Teams in Akron Ohio, when they came to face the Akron Racers. Even though Osterman did not play that day, I was honored to see Lowe play, even though a thunderstorm and lightning in the distance prevented me from staying after the game to meet the players (deciding to race the hour plus drive home instead).
The world of Women’s sports lost two great athletes in the past two years in the retirements of Lowe and Osterman on a national level, however both still give back to the sport in other ways, with clinics and coaching. With all the media focusing on male players in the NFL or MLB who are horrible role models, these two athletes not only showed class can be a part of determination to win, but also brought many people to the sport as followers. There will never be another Cat Osterman or Caitlin Lowe, but that’s what made them special.
Thank you to Cat and Cailtin for bringing many people to the sport, including a guy who just happened to stumble across the sport flipping channels one day. I still wear my Arizona Wildcat “Back to Back” Championship, my “Bound for Beijing 08,”and my Cat Osterman “Team USA” shirts with pride.