It was a warm Sunday afternoon sometime during the baseball season. I was relaxing, drinking a glass of ice tea and just doing some browsing on the interweb. I decided to turn on the television more for background sound than anything because I can’t stand the sound of total silence. I settled for ESPN2 and went back to whatever I was doing. Slowly the game that was on was grabbing my attention. I saw this tall, lanky left handed pitcher striking people out left and right. After each pitch the hitter looked frustrated at the called strike not because the referee called it a strike but they couldn’t believe how unbelievable the pitcher’s stuff was. Most of the batters struck out and hung their heads as they rambled back to their dugout. In the fifth inning one batter finally broke through with a single. The batter and team were so relieved and surprised they finally got a hit that they celebrated as if they had just won the World Series. The very next batter it was back to normal as this south paw continued to shut down every batter after that. So who is he exactly? Well, he is a she.
In 2002 Cat Osterman joined theUniversityofTexas’s softball team and with her signing Texasimmediately became a contender for the National Championship. Right off the bat Texasrecords began to fall. Cat became the first UT freshman to be named the Big 12 Pitcher of the week when she pitched two no hitters the week of February 19th. Later in the season she pitched a perfect game against Stephen F. Austin, the first perfect game in theUniversity of Texas’s history. She went on to strike out 554 batters her freshmen season which at the time was a NCAA record for freshmen. She set the Longhorns’ single season records for wins (36) and shutouts (17) and at one stretch in the season didn’t give up an earned run for seventy-nine consecutive innings. She also set the single game record for strikeouts, twenty-three.
In her sophomore year Cat pitched four more no-hitters and in just two seasons set the Longhorn’s career records for wins (68), shutouts (35), and strikeouts (1,042). Osterman became the first pitcher in Big 12 history to strike out 1,000 batters in two seasons and broke the NCAA strikeouts per game record as she averaged 14 strikeouts per game. Cat also broke the team record in shutouts, tied the school record in complete games and broke the team record in consecutive scoreless innings. All three records were records that she had already set herself the previous year.
After red shirting in 2004 so she could participate on the USA Women’s Olympic Softball team, she returned to Texas
in 2005 better than ever. In 2005, Cat threw six more no-hitters, including three more perfect games. She once again broke her own records in complete games and shutouts in a season. She also broke her own NCAA record by striking out a whooping 15.2 batters per game. Her career high 593 strikeouts were the third highest in a single season in NCAA history.
Cat became a senior in 2006 and she would go out as possibly the best pitcher in NCAA history. Cat’s senior season produced five more no hitters, three of them being perfect games. Osterman opened the 2006 season with six consecutive shut-outs. On February 25th, Cat Osterman struck out six Fresno State batters and seven Lady Rebels to bring her career strikeout total to 1,774 surpassing Courtney Blades as the all-time leader in strikeouts. On April 5th, Cat Osterman struck out five batters to become the first NCAA pitcher, softball or baseball, to reach 2,000 strikeouts for her career.
Unfortunately the Longhorns offense never produced Cat Osterman enough offense to capture a National Championship but she did capture gold of another kind in 2004. Cat Osterman was named to the 2004 Women’s USA Olympic Softball Team. She took a year off of college in order to participate because the Olympic team competed in a tour all over the to prepare them for the Olympics. In the tour across America Cat Osterman faced the best teams in the and was as perfect as you can be. During the tour Cat pitched 24 games and had a 16 – 0 record. In 74.2 innings she never allowed a single run and struck out 170 batters while walking just 7. She followed that performance with more success in the actual Olympics. In three games Cat had a 2 – 0 record and still didn’t surrender a run for 14.2 more innings. Over the course of the Olympic tour and the Olympics itself Cat was the most impressive pitcher on a pitching staff that included Jennie Finch and the legendary Lisa Fernandez.
Cat Osterman is hands down the most dominant pitcher I’ve ever seen pitch. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t claim she can pitch in the Majors or anything. But comparatively she’s more dominant in her sport than any pitcher is in their sport. Her overall career numbers proves it. In Major League Baseball the record for most no-hitters is Nolan Ryan with seven. Cat nearly matched that twice in single seasons, and finished with twenty no hitters. Cat actually had more perfect games, 10, than Ryan had no-hitters. Cat Osterman had 85 career shutouts, you have to go back to 1930 to find the last baseball player to have that many shutouts, and only two have had more than 85 in their careers. Osterman’s career ERA was a minuscule 0.50, a full run lower than the best ERA posted by a Major Leaguer with at least 1000 IP. The best walk-to-strikeout ratio in Major League Baseball history is .486 by Al Spalding. Cat’s walk-to-strikeout ratio is .084. Osterman posted 2,265 career strikeouts and just 192 walks. Can you imagine a major league pitcher striking out two thousand more batters than he walked? The best strikeout per game ratio in the Majors is held by Randy Johnson, who averaged nearly 11 strikeouts per game going into the 2006 season. Cat Osterman averaged 14.3 strikeouts per game. The amazing thing is, in softball they only play 7 inning games. So striking out 14 batters per game for her career means that on average she struck out two batters in every single inning she pitched. Unbelievable.