Team USA pitcher Cat Osterman is the first Athletes Unlimited softball champion.
Osterman retired in 2015 and returned in 2018 for a chance to play in the Olympics. She valued the chance to get high-level competition again, especially during a pandemic. And she appreciated the chance to re-connect with the players and fans; all 30 games were broadcast or streamed through various partners.
“I think this was an incredibly important opportunity for not only us athletes, but also giving the fans a sense of normal, being able to watch their favourite athletes play,” she said.
With 2408 points, 95 Ks through 64 IP, a 1.53 ERA and a record of 13-1, Cat Osterman led not only in the circle but also in the circle all season long.
Let’s look back at some of those moments. pic.twitter.com/gpKrxQjKUU
The league featured 57 of the top players in the world, including 19 Olympians from the United States, Canada, Mexico and Italy. Haylie McCleney was named Defensive Player of the Year. She was chosen by a vote that included the players.
Filling the void
With the Olympics being pushed back to 2021 because of the pandemic, the league provided an opportunity for players to keep their skills sharp. The league said Tuesday it will return next year.
“As soon as we got delayed, all of us were like, ‘OK, we have to figure out a way to be a part of Athletes Unlimited,” Osterman said. “`We have to figure how to do something to keep ourselves going.’ This filled a void in training and mentally as far as being able to get on the field and feel normal again.”
Osterman added to a long list of honours. She was an Olympic gold medallist in 2004 and a silver medallist in 2008. She was slated to be on the Olympic team this year before the COVID-19 pandemic caused the Games to be postponed. In college at Texas, she was a three-time USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year.