In the Circle with USA Softball
Learn about the connection between USA Softball star pitchers Monica Abbott and Cat Osterman.
Star pitchers Monica Abbott and Cat Osterman have teamed up for some of the biggest moments in USA Softball history, including world championships in 2006 and 2010. Monica and Cat were teammates in 2008, the last time USA Softball competed on the game’s biggest international stage, and the veterans have learned from each other after spending several years in the same bullpen.
“It’s always fun to watch someone else pitch at a really high level,” Abbott said. “You see something new every time.”
Osterman and Abbott return to USA Softball for 2021 competition after taking different career paths in the game. While Abbott has recently pitched at the professional level, both in the United States and internationally, Osterman has spent recent years coaching college athletes. Their different experiences, Abbott said, have provided a wealth of knowledge for their USA softball teammates.
“Cat’s coming with a little bit more coaching experience since she’s been away, and I’ve been able to share and draw from the professional side and the international side,” Abbott said. “I think that, more than anything, has been really huge for us as a team.”
Osterman said she and Abbott tend to approach hitters and situations differently, and those different approaches provide more options when it comes to getting a critical out. Osterman said Abbott will frequently analyze details and metrics for opposing hitters, important information for identifying weaknesses.
“Coming from the coaching side, there’s point where I’m like, ‘Ok, we have to keep it simple and I’m going to have to go with my best stuff, regardless of all this other data or information we have,’” Osterman said. “Being able to mesh that has been cool.”
Osterman and Abbott have been able to play off each other and embrace their differences in the circle. In game situations, one can enter in relief of the other to give hitters a completely different look. While Abbott can pitch 70 mph up in the zone, Osterman changes speeds and pitches 62 mph down in the zone. Both pitchers made their living as starters, but they are also comfortable pitching in relief late in games.
“Whatever the team needs,” Abbott said. “At this point, I think we’re both very comfortable in knowing that, at the end of the day, it’s going to take everyone… We are literally each other’s best complement.”
The different looks from Monica and Cat can terrorize opponents. Osterman said hitters can have a hard time adjusting to their pitching styles quickly in the middle of a game.
“We’re both used to throwing seven innings all the time,” Osterman said. “That’s what we did in college and pro ball, but the game’s evolving to where a lot of times you have to use multiple pitchers, and it’s fun to see the drastic combo that we can be sometimes.”
Osterman frequently takes out opposing hitters with her drop ball, the pitch she focuses on most in bullpen sessions. She said it is important for her to get a good feel for the pitch when training.
“It’s obviously my best pitch. That’s not a secret,” she said. “If my drop ball is not working, I won’t move on until I get a good feel with it.”
Abbott likes to divide her bullpen sessions equally between all her pitches to stay sharp, but her focus often turns to her rise ball, her bread and butter in the circle.
“That’s what I’m known for. I spend a lot of time on that pitch, and I throw it all the time,” Abbott said of her rise ball. “I spend a lot of time locating it, spinning it.”
The contrasting styles of Abbott and Osterman are sure to intimidate opposing hitters this summer. Follow Monica and Cat on Instagram @monicaabott and @catosterman to keep up with the pitchers as they prepare to take on the game’s best.