BEIJING, China (Courtesy USA Softball) --- Left-handed pitcher Cat Osterman (Houston, Texas) became just the second U.S. pitcher to ever toss an Olympic complete game no-hitter on Wednesday afternoon with a 3-0 shutout over rival Australia. The south paw was almost perfect in the contest recording 13 strikeouts and allowing just three runners to reach base via the walk.
"Personally once I got settled after the third inning, I felt really good. The team was tested today and we really came through,” said Osterman of her no-hit Olympic performance. “It was nice to see the team get on base and score. We need to keep at this pace throughout the Games and I am excited about what we can accomplish.”
The only other Olympic complete game no-hit performance was on September 17, 2000 when Lori Harrigan led the U.S. issuing no hits in a 6-0 win against Canada.
From the plate it was Natasha Watley (Irvine, Calif.) who lifted a stagnant U.S. offense in the fifth inning with a clutch RBI single scoring Love Jung (Fountain Valley, Calif.). The power of Crystl Bustos (Canyon Country, Calif.) struck again marking her third consecutive Olympic game (includes 2004 Gold Medal game) in which she connected on the long ball. In the bottom of the sixth, she belted the ball to right field for a two-run dinger that scored Jessica Mendoza (Camarillo, Calif.) who reached on a walk.
"Today was a lot of fun. Obviously I was pleased with my at bat. These are the situations you dream about and why you play the game,” said Watley of her RBI single. “You dream about being able to come through for your team and its nice when you do especially at a stage like this. The team played so well today and Cat threw a great game so I am very proud of our team’s performance.”
Australia’s Tanya Harding was saddled with the loss while the Aussies moved to 0-2 after suffering a 4-3 disappointing loss to Japan on Tuesday evening. The win improves the U.S. to 2-0 in Olympic action and continues a 16-game Olympic win streak.
The Aussies put their first runner on board quickly in the top of the first inning when Kerry Wyborn earned a walk. Stacey Porter reached on a fielder’s choice, but Osterman settled and a ground out and called strikeout closed the top half of the inning.
Caitlin Lowe (Tustin, Calif.) reached base first for the U.S. team in the bottom of the second inning when Australian shortstop Natalie Ward bobbled a routine ground ball placing Lowe at first safely. With RBI hitter Jessica Mendoza (Camarillo, Calif.) at the plate hoping to move Lowe around, Aussie pitcher Tanya Harding jammed her forcing a 543 double play to end the inning.
A leadoff walk issued to Bustos started the scoring drive for the U.S. in the bottom of the second inning. With intentions of a sacrifice bunt to move Bustos over, leftfielder Kelly Kretschman (Indian Harbour Springs, Fla.) laid down a perfect bunt and with her speed landed safe at first for a base hit and two runners on with no outs. But the bats of Andrea Duran (Selma, Calif.), Stacey Nuveman (La Verne, Calif.) and Jung came up short all recording fly outs to leave the game scoreless through two.
The Aussies quickly responded with their first runner in scoring position with just one out in the top of the third. Leadoff hitter Danielle Stewart earned a walk off Osterman before centerfielder Belinda Wright laid down a sacrifice bunt moving Stewart to threaten. Then prior to Osterman’s 3-2 delivery to Australia’s leadoff Simmone Morrow, she was called for a fourth ball because of the international 20 second delivery rule. Osterman failed to deliver the ball from the circle within the 20 second clock guideline. So with two runners on and one out, the Aussie crowd rose to its feet in hope to see a run. However, Osterman quickly silenced the rally doing what she doesn’t best with back-to-back strikeouts.
Jessica Mendoza (Camarillo, Calif.) gave the U.S. much needed life in the top of the fourth with a leadoff drag base hit bunt. A flyout from Bustos and stolen base from Mendoza put her at second base with one out before Kretschman drove a flyout to left field and Duran struck out once again leaving the home team scoreless.
Osterman continued to work the Aussie hitters striking out the side in the top of the fifth inning.
With two outs, the U.S. finally took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning when Watley connected on a clutch two-out RBI single. Jung drew a one-out walk to get on board and later stole second during Flowers at bat. Battling through Harding’s pitches, Watley then became the hero of the game driving a 3-2 pitch to left center as Jung slid into home plate to take the lead.
Two more insurance runs padded the U.S. lead thanks to clean-up hitter Bustos who belted a home run to right field in bottom of the sixth inning. Mendoza scored on the homer as well after reaching on a walk.
The U.S. only connected on five hits in the contest from five different batters.
With a short time frame to celebrate, the U.S. will be back at Fengtai Field tomorrow at Noon ready to take on a improved Canadian team.