(CBS Local)– Cat Osterman is one of the greatest softball players ever and she is reminding everyone of that in the new professional softball league called Athletes Unlimited. The league features 56 of the best players in the world with an alternate fantasy-style points system where athletes can pick up points for leading at the end of each inning, individual stats and wins.
Osterman is at the top of the leaderboard right now with 1,228 points. That’s 252 more points than any other player. The former All-American pitcher at the University of Texas is a 2x Olympian and came out of retirement when softball was reintroduced to the Olympics. While the Olympics has been pushed back to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Osterman has used Athletes Unlimited to hone her skills and enjoy the game of softball in a brand new way.
“I’ve always enjoyed playing, but I feel there is a different level of energy and excitement that’s coming out of me and being able to enjoy the moment,” said Osterman in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “Some of it might have been retiring and unretiring. Obviously, it gives you a new appreciation for something you stepped away from. I also think this atmosphere is really fun. Getting to pick teams and getting to be with new teammates each week. Had I not taken this opportunity, there’s 30-40 people I never would’ve crossed paths with. One of those people is Gwen Svekis and obviously we’ve clicked and hit it off. That’s been fun and it’s fun to be back in the playing atmosphere.”
The teams switch every week in Athletes Unlimited, there are no coaches and the top four leaders in points get to be captains while drafting their teams. The Olympic Gold and Silver medalist has also coached for 12 years, so that has helped her in managing her teams the last few weeks. While Osterman has been pitching at a high level for a long time, it took her a little while to get back in a rhythm after coming out of retirement in 2018.
“The biggest change has been how I take care of my body and how I throw my bullpens,” said Osterman. “I’ve always been one that likes to throw and I like to throw a lot and I’ve had to shorten bullpens to make sure they’re quick and efficient. The other thing is doing yoga, stretching and making sure I work out in the days in between. I actually get stiffer if I don’t do anything since I’m a little bit older. I wish I was 25 still, hop off the couch and throw in a game. As far as my pitching, you have to go with what works and I haven’t tinkered too much there.”
Athletes Unlimited returns to CBS Sports Network on Monday, September 14 where Team Osterman will take on Team Ocasio. Osterman is thankful to have the opportunity for live game action this year in preparation for her Team USA run in the 2021 Olympics next summer.
“For me being an intense athlete, I like to see how people work and to see how everybody works their own individual way,” said Osterman. “The US National team, Canada and Italy are all represented here. It gives us a little bit of a look at each other, which is fun. For me personally, I needed game experience having been retired. This gives me a lot of innings. Finally, I’m in a good place both mentally and physically with hitters in the box. I think it has done more than its job already, which is exciting. It gives us all an opportunity to be around each other and once we get to the Olympics, we’ll have that competitiveness and that camaraderie.”