SALISBURY, Md. – Cat Osterman showed why she is not only the most recognizable name in the National Pro Fastpitch league but also one of its best players.
The left-handed Olympian struck out 15 batters and the USSSA Pride pushed across the winning run in the bottom of the sixth inning to take a 2-1 victory from the Pennsylvania Rebellion in Salisbury, Md.
It was the first game in the Rebellion’s history.
The first batter for the Rebellion was center fielder Andy Varsho, who struck out looking. The first baserunner was third baseman Jenn Salling, who was hit by a pitch by Osterman from the No. 2 spot in the batting order. Salling scored the first run later in the inning. Pauly got the first strikeout in Rebellion history when she fanned center fielder Caitlin Lowe in the bottom of the first. Second baseman Lauren Lappin got the first hit, a single up the middle in the sixth inning.
But the victory in the program’s history did not come, thanks to Osterman.
This was not a particularly strong outing for her. She walked five, hit two batters and allowed a first-inning run to the Rebellion without allowing a hit. She gave up only two in the game.
“I didn’t have my best stuff,” she told reporters after the game. “The last two innings, I managed to settle down. In the long run, when you walk five people, I feel I can get out of it.”
Osterman won a pitcher’s duel against her former teammate, Sarah Pauly. The 6-3 Pauly, a right-hander, formed a 1-2 punch for the Pride last season on the way to winning the NPF championship. Pauly struck out seven, walked one and hit a batter. She gave up six hits and the Pride managed to bunch two together in the third and sixth innings to produce the runs they needed to win the game.
“(Sarah) did a great job tonight,” Osterman said.
Pauly is the NPF’s winningest pitcher and, at 31 and in her 10th season, easily the most veteran player on the Rebellion.
With the score tied, 1-1 in the bottom of the sixth, Kristyn Sandberg doubled and GiOnna DiSalvatore sent a looper over third base for another double, moving Sandberg to third. A sacrifice fly by designated hitter Sally Kretschman drove in the run.
The Rebellion got a run in the first inning without the benefit of a hit. After Varsho struck out, Salling was hit by a pitch and moved to third when Osterman walked shortstop Bianca Mejia and right fielder Brittany Lindley. Osterman struck out left fielder Angleline Quiocho and appeared to get out of the inning when she struck out designated hitter B.B. Bates.
But Pride catcher Kristyn Sandberg could not hold onto the ball and it slipped to the backstop, allowing Salling to score.
The Pride tied the game in the third against Pauly. Third baseman Andrea Duran singled and shortstop Madison Shipman hit a grounder to short and beat the throw for another hit. Pauly then hit Lowe with a pitch to load the bases with no outs. Right fielder Sharonda McDonald popped out to catcher Mandy Ogle but left fielder Brigette Del Ponte’s grounder brought Duran home. Pauly then got Sandberg to ground out to third.