ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Cat Osterman promised the National Pro All-Stars would not take it easy on the New Mexico Lobos and she was true to her word as the All-Stars beat UNM 11-0 Thursday night at a packed Lobo Field.
Osterman, pitching on about five hours sleep due to travel, struck out seven Lobos in 2.2 innings of hitless ball. The Lobos got four hits off two other All-Star pitchers, but UNM was tagged for 15 hits.
The Pro All-Stars are on a tour of U.S. colleges to help promote softball and the pro league.
The Pro All-Stars were held scoreless in the first inning, but scored in every other inning to roll to the 11-0 win. UNM also had four errors. The fans who packed into the Lobo Softball Complex were treated to three home runs by the Stars, coming off the bats of Andrea Duran, Jamee Juarez and Megan Willis.
Osterman, one of the best pitchers in the history of the game, said the Stars are not touring the country taking it easy on the college girls.
"There is no way when you step between the lines, you think about letting up," said Osterman, an Olympian and World Cup champion, who pitched her college ball for the Texas Longhorns.
Osterman said the point of the tour is to promote the pro league and also the sport of softball.
"The pro level is so much different than the college level," said Osterman.
"You have college All-Americans up and down the lineup. You are looking at great pitching day in and day out and what do you do with that? We have All-American rookies who come into our league and don't hit that well their first year. It's just a different level."The All-Stars' schedule had them at Arizona on Monday, New Mexico State on Tuesday, and UTEP on Wednesday before pulling into Lobo Field on Thursday.
If the All-Stars' goal is to bring attention - and fans - to the sport of softball, so far the team is doing a good job. "We had a sellout crowd at Arizona," said Osterman. "We had more than 2,000 at Kansas City. "Osterman and one of the All-Star catchers, Megan Willis, said they are trying to make a point to the collegiate player, too: That there is great softball after college.
"We want to show the college player that they have an option, if they want to keep playing," said Willis, who was talked out of retirement by Osterman. "These (college) girls also get to see that the play only gets better and better as you get older.
"They also get a chance to play against some of the players they grew up watching. It's a great experience for everyone and we are getting great crowds for these (college) girls to play in front of. Everyone likes to play in front of a crowd."
Willis grew up in the softball hotbeds of Phoenix before heading off to the University of Texas to catch a couple of seasons for Osterman. Willis also said the All-Stars hope to find some new fans beyond the softball junkies.
"We want people to realize this is a sport they should come out and watch," said Willis. "We are making spectacular plays. We hit the ball hard."
Softball is a game with a lot of attractive features. It is quicker than baseball. There is a lot of pressure on fielders to be precise and quick because of the short distances between bases.
And when you have someone like Osterman on the plate, the reaction time for a batter is similar to a 90 mph fastball in baseball. Of course, in softball, the ball can break up, down, left or right. There also is fast and slow.
It's not an easy rock to hit.
Osterman, a lanky 6-foot-2, also pointed out that softball is a game that allows all shapes and sizes to have success.
"You don't have to be tall. You don't have to be exceptionally quick," she said. "You can be short and have success."
Osterman's height surely didn't hurt her leverage advantage on the pitching plate, but that height - and her family's tradition - had her growing up thinking about success in another sport.
"If you would have asked me at age 12 or 13, I don't think I would have told you I'd be playing softball my whole life," she said. "I would have told you basketball. It runs in the family.
"Softball isn't what I dreamed I'd be doing, but I wouldn't change it for anything in the world."