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Thirteen Years Later, Cat Osterman Could Get the Olympic Ending She Deserves

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Why did Cat Osterman come out of retirement and claw her way back onto the USA Softball National Team for a chance to fight for another gold medal at age 38? It’s simple. The southpaw pitcher has some serious unfinished business she needs to attend to.

Osterman’s first Olympic experience with Team USA was the epitome of sporting dominance and came in the middle of her illustrious college career at The University of Texas. Taking a red-shirt season in what would have been her junior year, Osterman pitched alongside legends Jennie Finch and Lisa Hernandez in an undefeated path to the gold medal at the 2004 Athens Games.

Her first win of the tournament came against Japan, giving the U.S. the one seed out of group play. As the youngest member on the team, Osterman finished the tournament with two wins and a save and led the team in total strikeouts. In a recent interview with Kelley O’Hara on the Just Women’s Sports Podcast, Osterman explains how special thatOlympic victory was for her:

“You can win other international events and hear your national anthem and it’s cool, but nothing like on the Olympic stage.”

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Back in Austin the year after that tremendous experience, Osterman vividly remembers the moment her long-term Olympic dreams were swiped from under her feet. Watching ESPN with some fellow baseball student-athletes, they saw an announcement run across the bottom ticker stating the IOC would be removing baseball and softball from the Olympics after the 2008 Beijing Games.

“One of the baseball players was like ‘Looks like your career is going to be ended sooner,’” Osterman recalls to O’Hara. Whether the friend intended to throw such a hurtful barb is unclear, but it perfectly delineated the starkly different realities facing the young athletes. Osterman was by far the best up and coming softball pitcher in the country, if not the world. Her counterpart on the baseball side likely had a decade-long, multimillion-dollar MLB career to look forward to, but Olympic glory once every four years was the highest stage Osterman could hope to play on. Finding out from a news announcement along the bottom line of ESPN that those dreams would be over so early in her career felt like “a slap in the face.”

 Osterman spent the next two years solidifying her status as the greatest college softball pitcher of all time. Upon graduation in 2006, she was a three-time National Player of the Year, four-time All-American, and two-time ESPY Award winner. She still holds the NCAA record for highest career strike-out-per-seven-inning ratio at 14.34, as well as UT records for total victories, ERA, shut-outs, and no-hitters.

After a stellar professional debut season in the National Pro Fastpitch softball league, it was once again time to take her skills to the global stage at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

In another dominant performance, Osterman’s Team USA reached the gold medal match by going 7-0 in group play and outscoring their opponents a combined 57-2. Unlike four years prior in Athens, Osterman was now the top pitcher on the team, and she took the mound for the gold medal game against Japan.

Having already defeated Japan twice in route to the championship, the U.S. seemed poised for Olympic glory once again. But when Osterman came out after five innings the U.S. was trailing 1-2. Twice the U.S. couldn’t capitalize on a one-out, bases loaded opportunity, and after a wild throw home allowed Japan to score a third run in the top of the seventh, the deflation was tangible in the American dugout.

The U.S. went scoreless to finish the inning and Japan erupted into the exuberant elation of having won Olympic Gold while handing the U.S. their first Olympic loss in eight years and their first non-gold medal in Olympic softball since 1996.

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For Osterman, it was the only two runs and only loss she’d allowed on the Olympic stage. And the aftertaste was bitter.

“Not only did we not win, it was almost a nightmare game. Anything that could go wrong did go wrong,” she vents to O’Hara, “It was brutal for quite a long time afterwards.”

And the salt that made the wound extra painful? Knowing there would be no chance for redemption. As far as she knew, her Olympic career was over.

Osterman spent the majority of the next near decade working in the college coaching ranks and crushing it in the National Pro Fastpitch league, a 16-year-old pro softball league where elite level players are able to continue their craft after college, albeit for extremely minimal salaries. When she retired from the NPF in 2015, Osterman was a three-time NPF Pitcher of the Year, four-time NPF Champion, and six-time All-NPF Team selection.

Upon first hearing that softball was being reinstated for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Osterman was initially just excited for the generation of players behind her, knowing they would now get to experience what she had before. Her longtime USA Softball coach encouraged her to submit her resume for a coaching role with Team USA. Shortly after acquiescing, she had an unfiltered conversation with a close friend, admitting to her, “Why am I trying to coach the team when I think I could probably still throw?”

With the unsubtle prodding only a close confidante can provide, Osterman owned up to wanting to suit up again for Team USA. So she shook off the dust, got back on the mound, and quickly proved that even in her late 30s, she is still one of the very best. This summer, playing in the inaugural Athletes Unlimited softball season, Osterman won the league’s individual title after accumulating the most player points over the course of the season. She did so while fanning many young players who looked up to her when they were kids

Whereas she was the youngest in her first Olympics, next summer Osterman will be the oldest on the roster as she heads to Japan, against whose national team she earned her first Olympic victory and also her sole Olympic defeat. Thirteen years after that premature exit from the biggest stage in sports, Cat Osterman, one of the greatest softball athletes of all time, has the chance once again to play in the global spotlight and cap her career with the (dare I say, golden) luster it deserves.

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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