Team USA Softball Secures First Tokyo Olympics Win Over Italy, Cat Osterman Pitches 6 Scoreless Innings
Amanda Chidester, Haylie McCleney, Valerie Arioto, Michelle Moultrie and Aubree Munro all had hits for the U.S. during the softball game against Italy
Softball superstar Cat Osterman just proved why she's a force to be reckoned with — even years after her retirement.
Osterman pitched six scoreless innings during Team USA softball's first game in the 2021 Summer Olympics on Wednesday. The American women were ultimately victorious over Italy, winning 2-0 in Tokyo. The success marks Team USA's first victory in this year's Games, with most events kicking off after Friday's Opening Ceremony.
Amanda Chidester, Haylie McCleney, Valerie Arioto, Michelle Moultrie and Aubree Munro all had hits for the U.S.
Italy didn't go down easily, though, with both teams hitless until the bottom of the fourth inning.
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"I think it was really good for us to get a good game under our belt. We knew Italy was gonna be scrappy. They're probably one of the most cohesive groups in this tournament," McCleney told reporters afterward. "They play like a family, and we knew they were gonna give us a tough game."
She added: "I'm excited to see how our bats catch fire later on in the tournament."
Next up, the softball team will face Canada at the Fukushima Azuma Baseball stadium in their quest for a gold medal.
Softball first became an Olympic sport back in 1996, making its debut at the Atlanta Summer Games. That year, the U.S. women won the first-ever softball gold medal. At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Team USA made it to the final but was defeated by Japan. Softball was off of the schedule for the 2012 and 2016 Summer Games.
Osterman actually announced her retirement from softball in 2015, but returned to the Olympic team to tend to some "unfinished business," she told PEOPLE earlier this year.
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"I feel like I was born and raised in this program, getting in at such a young age of 18," Osterman told PEOPLE. "I felt like I needed to come do my job as a veteran and come back and help them navigate the journey to a gold medal."
Speaking with reporters after the win against Italy, Osterman said: "The break was probably a good thing to give my body a little bit of downtime. Another big thing is I've had to remember what made me effective. It's not always necessarily throwing balls into the strike zone. It's also about getting them to chase and swing and setting those pitches up. So, there may have been parts that I had to relearn, but my competitiveness is what keeps me going."
After the strong performance in Wednesday's game, teammate McCleney praised Osterman: "She is experienced and she is our rock."
To learn more about all the Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, visit TeamUSA.org. Watch the Tokyo Olympics beginning July 23rd and the Tokyo Paralympics beginning August 24th on NBC.