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Cat Osterman is ready to bring her legendary career to a close (again)

Courtesy of Athletes Unlimited

Heading into the final weekend of the Athletes Unlimited season, and the final weekend of her softball career, pitching legend Cat Osterman is focused on just one thing: enjoying herself. 

“I’m ready to walk away,” she tells Just Women’s Sports. “There will be no regrets. I have given everything I can to this game. 

“But as a teammate, I just want to have fun.”

Coming out of retirement wasn’t even a remote possibility for Osterman in 2015 when she first stepped away from the sport. At the time, she was ready to hang up the cleats for good. 

Everything changed when softball was added to the Tokyo Olympics after being taken off the program following the 2008 Games. As Osterman explained on the Just Women’s Sports podcast last year, she was first asked to help coach the US team before deciding she still had some gas left in the tank.

Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The addition of Athletes Unlimited introducing softball as its first professional league in 2020 was a silver lining in the midst of it all.

“I am glad I unretired and came back, but I’m fully ready [to retire],” Osterman says, adding that the biggest thing she’s learned over the past two years has been how much she truly enjoys playing softball.

“I think I am very intense and serious so often that my enjoyment of the game doesn’t always come through,” she continues. “But I truly enjoyed playing and have been able to let loose in moments that I didn’t before.”

At 38 years old, getting to know new faces, be it through Athletes Unlimited or with the U.S. National Team, has been a highlight for Osterman. Season two of Athletes Unlimited has been different from season one in that the athletes are no longer in a bubble. That means more bonding activities outside of just softball. The league has enabled Osterman to connect with players she might not normally have crossed paths with, like outfielder Ciara Bryan.

“We went to a White Sox game and [Bryan] was like, ‘Hey, do you want to be in my Snap?’ And I was like, ‘Sure. I’m not a big Snapchat person, but hey, you want me in your snap? I’ll jump in and say hi,’” Osterman says. “And just to learn that that was her first MLB game ever was crazy.”

Playing with Athletes Unlimited has also allowed Osterman’s friends and family to see her play one last time after fans were barred from the Tokyo Olympics. At previous Olympics, Osterman was used to having a dozen plus family members cheering her on from the stands. 

“I’ve had a very supportive family throughout my whole career,” she says, adding that a lot of family will be coming to Chicago to watch her this weekend.

“That’s always cool to be able to see those people in the stands, and just feel their love and their presence, because they’ve been a huge part of my career.” 

Jade Hewitt/Getty Images

Heading straight from the Olympics into the Athletes Unlimited season has been a grind for the 23 players that were in Tokyo, including Osterman. 

“There were two-and-a-half, three weeks in between the end of one season and the start of the next,” she says. “That’s not really a lot of time for us to process everything, to be able to decompress, physically come down from all the training that we’ve been doing for the last two years.”

But that’s where enjoying the game and not letting expectations get the best of you comes in. For Osterman, the past four weeks have been about doing it because she loves softball and nothing else. 

Still, as many athletes continue to open up about their mental health, Osterman admits that while she’s not one to always put her thoughts on social media, it’s been a struggle. 

“I’ve been home 13 days in the last three months, and that’s tough,” she says.  “Mentally, it’s surrounding yourself with the right people, talking to the right people so they fill your love up. They fill your heart up. 

“I think for me, knowing this is the end, I approach every week with, ‘You know what? I’m going to leave everything I have out on the field.’

“Some days I have my stuff. Some days I don’t. When I don’t, it’s frustrating. But at the same time, I’ve got to offer myself a little bit of grace and know that what we have gone through in the last two years is a lot.”

Osterman will head into her final weekend of Athletes Unlimited softball in an unusual position — for the first time in two years, she won’t be captaining a team. After losing the top spot in week three to Amanda Chidester, she now sits at 10th on the leaderboard with 1,216 total points. 

After winning the inaugural individual title last season, Osterman says this season is all about having fun and not stressing about the outcome. 

“At the end of the day, does [our performance] make or break where we end in the standings? Yes,” she says. “But does it make or break our careers? No, not at all.”

Yuichi Masuda/Getty Images

No matter what happens this weekend, Osterman will still retire as one of the greatest pitchers the sport has ever known, one with one Olympic gold and two silver medals to her name. Her number has already been retired with the USSSA Pride after amassing a 95-24 record during her career on the National Pro Fastpitch. The University of Texas likewise retired her number last year, making her the first UT softball player and third woman in university history to have her jersey retired. 

Her venture with Athletes Unlimited has been just as successful and historic. Osterman will forever be the first-ever champion in league history. And while she might not repeat this year, she still made history all the same, tossing the first no-hitter in Athletes Unlimited history.

As a legendary career draws to a close, Osterman insists that she’s staying in the present, and that she’ll be focused this weekend on celebrating another successful season of Athletes Unlimited. She’s hopeful the league can continue to grow as the pre-eminent professional league in the country. 

If there’s an avenue, Osterman says she’d love to stay involved with the league. But for now, she’s excited about the prospect of finally being able to step off of the field and into the rest of her life. This time, it really is for good. 

“It’s crazy to think that I will never put on the cleats again,” she says. “But I’m excited to celebrate the end of another successful AU season with these athletes. It’s not about me. I’m obviously going to walk away. But just for them to have this avenue and to have been a part of it in the first two seasons is pretty cool.”

Editor’s note: Athletes Unlimited is a sponsor of Just Women’s Sports.

Clark, Martin Square Off in First Pro WNBA Matchup

Kate Martin #20 of the Las Vegas Aces and Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever look on during the game
Things looked a little different Saturday night as the former Iowa teammates went head-to-head in Las Vegas. (Jeff Bottari/NBAE via Getty Images)

Former Iowa teammates Caitlin Clark and Kate Martin shared the court once again on Saturday, this time as professionals.

It was Martin’s Aces that got the 99-80 win over Clark’s Fever in Las Vegas. The pair's former coaches Lisa Bluder, Jan Jensen, Jenni Fitzgerald, and Raina Harmon were all in attendance to watch their Hawkeyes — Clark, Martin, and former national player of the year Megan Gustafson — take the court.

"It’s super special. It’s cool for our program, cool for Lisa, for Coach Jan, for all of them," Clark said in a pregame press conference. "They’ve known me since I’ve been 13 years old and now I’m 22 getting to live out my dream and they’ve been a huge part of that and helping me get here and helping Megan and Kate to get here too. It’s a great moment for them and I’m sure they’re not complaining about a trip to Vegas."

As for her college teammate, Clark had nothing but good things to say ahead of the showdown. 

"I’m just really happy for her and everything Coach [Becky] Hammon says about her is so true," she said. "Every person that played at Iowa and was around her knows that to be true. She’s the ultimate teammate, ultimate person, ultimate leader."

In the end, Martin stole the show with 12 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes, while Clark amassed eight points, seven assists, and five rebounds over 29 minutes of playing time. 

"It was weird," Martin admitted after the game. "I'm not going to lie — just looking out on the court and seeing her in a different jersey than me, it was obviously different. But it's really fun. We're both living out our dreams right now."

The Aces next meet the fever on July 2nd at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Barcelona Beat Lyon to Win Back-to-Back Champions League Titles

Barcelona's Aitana Bonmatí and Alexia Putellas celebrating after beating Lyon at the 2024 Champions League final
Ballon d'Or winners Aitana Bonmatí and Alexia Putellas helped Barcelona to a second-straight UWCL title on Saturday. (Ramsey Cardy - Sportsfile/UEFA via Getty Images)

Barcelona was crowned champion of the Champions League on Saturday with a 2-0 win over Lyon in Bilbao.

Alexia "La Reina" Putellas, who recently re-signed with Barcelona, came off the bench to score the team's second goal. Fellow Ballon d’Or winner Aitana Bonmatí provided the team’s first. After the game, defender Lucy Bronze said Putellas was nicknamed "the queen" for a reason.

"Alexia is the captain of the team and she's the queen of Barcelona for a reason,"  defender Lucy Bronze told DAZN. "She's got the quality to do that in the last minute of the Champions League final when we were up against it at the end and it just sealed the win for us. It was amazing."

The victory marked Barcelona's first win over Lyon in a UWCL final, having previously gone up against the French side at both the 2019 and 2022 Champions League finals. It's also Barcelona's second Champions League title in a row.

"It's hard to win it once, but to do it back-to-back, Lyon showed how difficult it is and this team has finally done that," Bronze said. "I think we go down in history as one of the best teams in Europe."

This season, the team also secured a quadruple for the first time in club history, having already won Liga F, the Copa de la Reina, and the Spanish Supercopa. The win ensures that coach Jonatan Giráldez — who has officially departed the team to join the NWSL's Washington Spirit — leaves Europe a champion.

"It was an incredible game. I am really happy, it's one of the best days of my life for sure," Giráldez told broadcaster DAZN after the game. "We did an amazing job. I am very proud of all of them."

Following the win, Putellas said her team "can't ask for anything else."

"Our objective was to win four out of four," the Spain international told reporters. "We have achieved everything we wanted. Every minute of sacrifice has been worth the effort — and I'd say that not after the game, but before, just entering in the stadium, with all the support we had here, it was worth it."

2024 Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Aitana Bonmatí said that the crowd support made it "feel like Camp Nou."

"I am on cloud nine right now," she said. "It is an historic day which we will remember forever."

Sun’s Alyssa Thomas Ejected After Flagrant 2 on Sky Rookie Angel Reese

Angel Reese said there were "no hard feelings" stemming from Alyssa Thomas's flagrant foul. (Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Angel Reese might have gotten knocked down on Saturday, but she got right back up again. 

Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas was ejected from the Sun’s 86-82 win over Chicago following a flagrant foul 2 on Reese — the first of her career. While the two were battling for a rebound, Reese took a clothesline hold around the neck courtesy of Thomas before hitting the ground.

After the game, Reese told reporters that there were "no hard feelings" and she appreciated Thomas for playing her hard beneath the basket.

"I know she purposely probably didn’t do it towards me," Reese said. "But just being able to come out there and just be strong and stand on two feet, it was going to be a tough game and that’s what I’m built for. And my teammates had my back throughout the whole game. So I was prepared for it."

She also didn’t buy into the idea that it was a "Welcome to the WNBA" moment, but thanked Thomas "sending a message" because it helped her get back up and "keep pushing."

"It’s not just because I’m a rookie. I’m a player. I’m a basketball player. They don’t give a damn if I’m a rookie. I mean, I want them to come at me every day. I want them to come at everybody," she added. "I mean, they’re not supposed to be nice to me. I hope y’all know that. They’re not supposed to be nice to me or lay down because I’m Angel Reese or because I’m a rookie."

Reese finished the game with 13 points, five rebounds, and two assists over 33 minutes.

Barcelona to Face Lyon in Champions League Rematch This Weekend

UEFA Women's Champions League Final"Barcelona FC - Olympique Lyonnais"
Saturday's game will be the third UWCL final meeting for Barcelona and Lyon, having previously gone up against each other in 2019 and 2022. (ANP via Getty Images)

The UEFA Women's Champions League final kicks off in Bilbao on Saturday, with a couple of familiar foes set to face off for the trophy.

Olympique Lyonnais Féminin, making its 11th final appearance since 2010, will go head to head with a Barcelona side making its fourth final appearance in a row.

This will be the third time these two teams meet in the UWCL title game, having previously appeared in the 2019 and 2022 finals. Lyon won both of those prior games against Barcelona, alongside a total of eight Champions League trophies. That’s double that of any other club, with Eintracht Frankfurt coming in a distant second with four. 

Should Barcelona win, this would be the team's third title — breaking a tie for the third in the UWCL total titles race. 

But as these teams return to the UWCL final, it also marks the end of an era for both clubs. The game will be the last for both club managers, as Barcelona’s Jonatan Giráldez and Lyon’s Sonia Bompastor depart for new jobs after the season's end.

Giráldez is set to leave for the NWSL's Washington Spirit, while Bompastor will take over for incoming USWNT coach Emma Hayes at Chelsea. Both coaches have earned one UWCL trophy during their tenures, while Bompastor also brought two Champions League trophies to Lyon as a player. She was the first coach to win a UWCL trophy as both a coach and player.

This season, Barcelona is looking for its first quadruple, having won a fifth Liga F title alongside the Copa de La Reina, and the Spanish Supercopa. 

"We hope he can go out with the four trophies because we know how competitive and ambitious he is," Barcelona midfielder Patri Guijarro told ESPN. "It has been a winning era with him in charge and for him to go out with all four trophies would be historic and incredible."

But Lyon's Damaris Egurrola is excited about her team's chances of overcoming Barcelona once again — and to do it in front of family and friends.

"Lyon have something special," she told Forbes ahead of the weekend's final. "We have a great team and we have the players with enough talent to win any match."

The game will be a homecoming for Egurrola, who began her professional career with Athletic Bilbao.

"I’ve been thinking of this day and night," she said. "I’ve been dreaming of playing this match. Having the opportunity to play in San Mames is amazing. This is where it all started for me."

The UEFA Women's Champions League final kicks off Saturday, May 25th at 12 PM ET and is free to stream on DAZN.

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