WASHINGTON, June 18 -

Mr. Speaker, today I am honored to recognize a talented Texas woman, Catherine ``Cat'' Osterman, a fast pitch softball legend. Born in Houston, Cat discovered at an early age that she wanted to be a pitcher. There was no denying that she was a natural athlete, but it wasn't until the day that she filled in as a back-up pitcher for her Little League softball team that sparked the fire making her so successful in her sport.

Since that first taste of pitching, Cat's love for the game blossomed. Through her hard work and determination, she became a star on her high school's softball team. Her pitching is incredible: she has mastered six pitches, and she reserves her most famous pitch, the fast pitch, for critical moments on the field.

She graduated from Cypress Springs High School where she earned the Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year Award as well as her now famous nickname ``Cat.'' She went on to play softball for the Longhorns at the University of Texas at Austin when the softball team was only 5 years old. During Cat's time in Austin, she broke every softball record at the University of Texas.

Cat's talent and passion for the game took her and her team to 3 Women's College World Series. She remains the only person to have ever won the national college player of the year 3 times. Because of her incredible talent and statistics, Cat was asked to play for Team USA in the 2004 Olympics in Athens. At only 21 years of age, Cat became an Olympic gold medalist, having pitched nearly 15 innings without allowing a run. Athens was not Cat's only Olympic experience; she returned to the Olympic Games 4 years later in Beijing, once more pitching for the United States national softball team.

After the Olympics, Cat's career in softball continued to be successful. She played for Team USA, winning 2 world championships, and she was the first draft pick for Connecticut Brakettes in the National Pro Fastpitch softball league.

This April, Cat announced that she will be retiring from pitching. But you can't keep her away from the game that she loves. Her passion for the game has driven her all these years, and passion like that doesn't just die. Cat's passion is leading her to coach softball for St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas, and to help others to become passionate about the game themselves. People like Cat Osterman, who dedicate their lives to what they are passionate about, are the reason why this country remains great. And that's just the way it is.