FUKUSHIMA, Japan — Editor's note: The video posted above is from a pre-Olympics interview with Cat Osterman, talking about her preparation for the games, and the return of softball to the Olympic schedule for the first time since 2008. NBC Olympics highlights from Wednesday's game against Italy are included below.
Cat Osterman looked ahead, not behind, in the start of the United States' quest to regain the Olympic softball gold medal, 13 years after she lost the championship game.
A 38-year-old left-hander and one of two remaining players from 2008, Osterman pitched one-hit ball over six innings and struck out nine to beat Italy 2-0 on Wednesday in searing heat and wilting humidity as the Olympics got underway.
“Today was about today,” she said. “If I use ’08 as motivation, then I’m selfish. This is not about me. This is not about a silver medal that happened. This is about this team and allowing these athletes that are younger than me to be able to live out an Olympic dream and hopefully get to that top step on the podium. So today was totally about how are we going to beat Italy and how am I going to help this team get started."
Michelle Moultrie singled in a run in the fourth inning for the top-ranked U.S., which lost the title to Japan 3-1 at the 2008 Beijing Games. Janie Reed, the wife of Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Jake Reed, added a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
“There’s a lot that goes on with just trying to get into a groove of: I’ve always done this. It’s the same game I’ve always played,” said Moultrie, a 31-year-old outfielder who joined the national team in 2011.
Osterman walked none, hit two batters and gave up her only hit to Andrea Filler, a single leading off the fourth. The last remaining player from the 2004 gold medalists and pitching 2 1/2 months before her intended retirement, Osterman improved to 6-1 in Olympic play with 66 strikeouts in 38 innings.
“The body doesn't recover as fast," she said. "Coachie likes to remind me sometimes I'm not as flexible, so I have to adjust my pitches a little bit. But I think the biggest thing is my mentality and my competitiveness has stayed the same.”
Monica Abbott, a 35-year-old lefty who relieved in the 2008 gold medal game, struck out the side in the seventh for the save. She may start Thursday morning's game against Canada.