Standing approximately six-foot-two with a strong, athletic frame, 17-year-old Izzy Dino is an obvious target for basketball and volleyball coaches around the North Shore.
And she has dabbled a bit in volleyball, playing with the BCO Club and at West Vancouver Secondary where she is about to enter Grade 12, but the attempts at getting her onto the court more permanently are mostly futile. Her heart – and those long powerful limbs – belong on the ball diamond.
Dino recently returned from the U18 Canadian Fast Pitch Championships held in Lloydminster, Alta., where she helped her team, the Richmond Islanders, win the Confederation Cup (the consolation final) with a string of dominant pitching performances. Dino pitched 41 innings in the tournament, putting up a 5-1 record in six starts with an ERA of 0.84. She cranked things up even more in the playoffs, pitching three complete game wins in two days, including a 7-0 shutout of the Mississauga S.W. Hurricanes in the Confederation Cup final. The win gave the Islanders a ninth-overall placing in the national championship tournament but also earned them medals as the consolation round champions.
“I was tired, but I knew it was the last game so I decided to leave it all out there,” Dino said about her pitching effort at the end of the long tournament. “We wanted to at least win gold and bring something home.”
Dino started playing T-ball when she was five and then moved on to the North Shore Girls Fastpitch Association when she was nine. As she progressed she went hunting for top-level competition, first moving to the Vancouver Wildcats where she helped the team win a B-level provincial title before joining the A-level Islanders who play in Canada’s top youth league. Last year she went one step higher, joining the California Firecrackers, spending several weekends a year playing tournaments and showcases with the Los Angeles-based team against the best softball squads in the United States.
At every level she’s played Dino has excelled as a windmill pitcher, helped out by that tall frame. Her parents weren’t ball players but they blessed her with height – Dad is about 6-0 while Mom is 5-11.
“I’ve always been really tall for my age,” said Dino. “It wasn’t a huge shock that I would be 6-2, but I just always kept growing. I just never really stopped. … It gives me an advantage for power and for spin – having long fingers.”
Dino can fire a pitch at more than 60 miles per hour, and her repertoire includes a drop ball, changeup, curveball and a rise ball that she is still tinkering with. Her strong arm earned her interest from several college programs, and last month Dino verbally committed to the University of Hawaii where she’ll play Div. 1 NCAA ball for the Rainbows in the competitive Big West Conference. She’ll make a campus visit there in September and then sign an official letter of intent in November.
“It’s going to be fun,” said Dino. “I like the coaching staff and the team, and the campus is really beautiful.”
The location also works well for Dino – she’s a surfer.
“I like the beach,” she said with a laugh.
In the next few years Dino will also be gunning for the junior and senior national teams. Those are lofty goals indeed, but the lanky pitcher so far has been up to the task. That’s tough news for all those basketball coaches – Dino doesn’t intend to take her foot off the pitching rubber anytime soon.
“Softball is more my main sport,” she said. “I like the competitiveness that the sport brings and also I like how I’ve met so many great people through a sport that I wouldn’t have met without playing softball.”