Two-time Olympian Cat Osterman, who retired in 2015 as one of softball's most accomplished pitchers, will attempt a comeback in hopes of making the USA roster for the 2020 Olympics.
Osterman was among 41 players who accepted invitations from USA Softball on Tuesday to try out for the national team. The 35-year-old told espnW that her goal is to compete in Tokyo, where softball will return to the Olympic program after a 12-year absence.
The International Olympic Committee dropped softball from its program after the 2008 Games. Along with baseball, it was reinstated for 2020 as part of an IOC initiative to give hosts a say in the inclusion of sports popular in their countries. Softball's Olympic future beyond 2020 is unclear.
Osterman was the youngest member of the U.S. team that won gold in the 2004 Olympics. She was also the starting pitcher in Team USA's stunning loss to Japan in the 2008 gold-medal game that ended the Americans' dominance in the event. The United States has won gold at three of the four Olympics that have staged softball.
"I'm just trying to help win a gold medal in whatever capacity they think I need to be in," Osterman said. "It's all about getting back what we feel is rightfully ours. There is an inner drive that I want to be a part of that."
In addition to Olympic gold and silver medals, Osterman won two world championship gold medals. And even as rule changes and technological advances led to increased offense during her career, the 6-foot-3 Osterman remained the embodiment of a sport associated with pitching.
Osterman is the NCAA Division I all-time leader with an average of 14.34 strikeouts per seven innings, and she recorded 85 shutouts in 148 starts for Texas. As a professional, she was twice named National Pro Fastpitch pitcher of the year outright and shared the award another season. She was named the league's postseason MVP en route to three of her four championships.
In her final NPF season, she led the league in strikeouts and ranked second in wins. She retired to focus on coaching and is currently the pitching coach at Texas State.
Osterman is not guaranteed a spot on the roster that will compete in the 2019 Pan-Am Games and will likely form the foundation of the 15-player Olympic roster in 2020. She is one of three former U.S. Olympians, along with Monica Abbott and Kelly Kretschman, who were invited to trials, which will be held Jan. 1-6 in Clearwater, Florida.
"I've made it clear, if I go to tryouts and don't throw well, don't take me," Osterman said. "I get it. But I have confidence that I'm throwing well enough."
The U.S. has already qualified for the 2020 Olympics by winning this year's WBSC World Championship. The U.S. and host Japan will be joined in the six-team Olympic field by two teams from North and South America, one from Asia and one from Europe or Africa.