There might not be a more difficult task in all of women’s professional sports than to outpitch Cat Osterman.
The 6-3, 31-year-old left-hander for the USSSA Pride is to the National Pro Softball league what LeBron James is to the NBA, Sidney Crosby is to the NHL and Cy Young was to Major League baseball.
To beat her, an opposing pitcher has to throw a shutout and hope her team finds a way to score.
Such was the plight of Pennsylvania Rebellion pitcher Angel Bunner. The left-hander pitched well enough to win, shutting out the Pride for six innings. But the seventh was an inning to forget.
The Pride took advantage of two throwing errors in the seventh to break that scoreless tie and come away with a 5-0 victory over the Rebellion Tuesday at Consol Energy Park.
The win moves the Pride, who won three of four in this series, to 17-7 and the Rebellion fall to 5-17.
“Cat is just an unbelievable pitcher,” said Rebellion manager Stacey Rice. “She is one of the best in the sport and we knew that. You have to manufacture a run – hit, bunt, sacrifice – just to score.”
Osterman no-hit the Rebellion during a 7-0 win in the first game of this series, but third baseman Jenn Salling made sure there would not be back-to-back no-hitters in the first inning. She hit a weak grounder off the bat that bounced in front of shortsop Madison Shipman and spun away from her. Salling easily beat the throw, but was erased on a double play that ended the inning.
“I wouldn’t say it’s easy,” said Osterman, who has now thrown 25 consecutive shutout innings. “I just stay aggressive and stay with the pitches that are working. They came out swinging early in the game. Sure, you want to get a no-hitter every time, but I have to be realistic.”
Osterman entered the game with a 0.298 ERA, which means she allows a run every three games. She left the game with a third straight shutout and a 0.259 ERA. She didn’t allow the Rebellion to get a runner in scoring position until the sixth inning and did not allow a ball hit to the outfield.
“Our offense is very good,” said Osterman. “Our Nos. 9, 1 and 2 hitters are fast runners and make things happen. It’s just a matter of time. Angel Bunner threw great the first six innings. Eventually, I believe we were going to score or I would have gone back out there (for extra innings).”
The disastrous seventh inning was aided by two throwing errors by the Rebellion. Courtney Ceo drew a one-out walk and left-fielder Natasha Watley bounced one to second baseman Sarah Prezioso, who fired the ball past first baseman Courtney Liddle for an error that allowed Ceo to score and Watley to reach third. Prezioso was subbing for Lauren Lappin, who is out with a quad pull.
“Prez is normally a shortstop,” Rice said. “She is unfamiliar with second base.”
Caitlin Lowe then pushed a slow roller to Bunner’s right, and she also threw wildly past Liddle at first for another error. Watley scored and Lowe raced all the way home as the ball was being retrieved.
“I just rushed it,” Bunner said. “I tried to make the play before the play happened.”
First baseman GiOnna DiSalvatore singled to center and Madison Shipman hit a book-rule double to score pinch-runner Brejae Washington to make to 4-0. That was it for Bunner. Anna Miller relieved but gave up a single and two walks, the last of which came with the bases loaded, before striking out pinch-hitter Brigette Del Ponte.
Bunner went 6 1/3 innings and all five runs were unearned because of the errors. Osterman allowed just two hits, walked two and struck out eight.
Attendance was 1,242. … This was the second straight game in this four-game series to be televised by CBS Sports Network. The first one in the 17-game package was Monday night for a 1-0 win by the Rebellion. … Members of the Wild Things were on hand and sat along the third base line.