The standard for stardom for Cat Osterman is normally measured in different ways. Some do it by the wide array of pitches she throws for strikes, some by her incredible ability to hit her spots, and some by the way she dominates hitters.
But maybe this says more about her dominance in the National Pro Fastpitch softball league.
After putting the finishing touches on a no-hit performance against the Pennsylvania Rebellion, the 6-2, left-hander couldn’t recall if it was the third or fourth no-hitter of her career.
“I know I had two last year,” said Osterman, reaching back to the memory banks. “Maybe one more. I only know of three in my (NPF) career.”
Osterman sailed through seven innings, mowing down Rebellion batters with her five-pitch repertoire, striking out 12, walking two and leading the defending champion USSSA Pride to an easy 7-0 victory Saturday at Consol Energy Park. It was the first no-hitter thrown at CEP and the first in the Rebellion’s history. It also dropped their record to 4-15, while the Pride moved to 15-6.
Osterman has been nearly unhittable this season, allowing two runs in 47 2/3 innings. She has 76 strikeouts and a 0.29 ERA.
The closest the Rebellion came to getting a hit was in the first inning, when shortstop Bianca Mejia slapped one back to Osterman, who had it deflect off her glove to second baseman Courtney Ceo. She made the throw to first base to get Mejia by a step.
“I thought if the tipped ball went a little further, maybe,” said Mejia, who also flied to left and center field in her other at-bats. “I love to hit of Catherine. There are certain pitchers you hit well against. I have no idea what my average is against her, but I know it’s not good.”
Osterman has the same respect for Mejia, admitting that she would not have minded walking Mejia in the top of the seventh inning. Instead, Mejia laced one right to center fielder Caitlin Lowe for the first out of the inning.
“Bianca is the one I key on in that lineup,” Osterman said. “While I thought about walking her, I also thought this is no time to be chicken.”
Catcher Kristyn Sandberg caught her second no-hit game from Osterman and says the two are nearly always on the same page with the hitters. “She is just so competitive,” Sandberg said. “She gives you her best effort. That’s what makes her one of the best pitchers. Even when she is not on one of her best days, she can beat you.”
Osterman used five pitches, a drop, curve, riser, off-speed and screwball – against the Rebellion. Her only bad inning – if you can call it that – came in the fifth when she walked two batters, Courtney Liddle to start the inning and Jenn Salling with two outs. Osterman struck out left fielder Angeline Quiocho to end the threat.
“It’s a frustrating thing when you don’t score, because you know it’s going to be a low-scoring game with her,” said Rebellion manager Stacey Rice. “We talk to the hitters and tell them to be aggressive. This is not like college, where you have many opportunities to score. You only get a few in this league. When you get a chance, you have to take advantage of it.”
The pride took control of the game early against Rebellion starter Dallas Escobedo (1-4). The Pride scored a run in the third and two each in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Escobedo, the Rebellion’s top draft pick this year, left after 4 2/3 innings. She gave up eight hits, five runs, three earned and struck out three.
Madison Shipman went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored from her ninth position in the batting order and GiOnna DiSalvatore went 3-for-4 with an RBI. Lowe knocked in the first run of the game with a sacrifice fly and drove in another with a single in the fifth to make it 5-0. Seven of the nine starters had at least one hit and Pride manager Gerry Glasco used 16 players.