Softball: St. Charles East Howe caps memorable run with stellar senior season

  • Patrick Kunzer for Shaw LocalSt. Charles East senior Izzy Howe went 15-5 this season and will pitch next year at Division I Coastal Carolina.

    Patrick Kunzer for Shaw LocalSt. Charles East senior Izzy Howe went 15-5 this season and will pitch next year at Division I Coastal Carolina.

  • St. Charles East senior Izzy Howe went 15-5 this season and will pitch next year at Division I Coastal Carolina.

    St. Charles East senior Izzy Howe went 15-5 this season and will pitch next year at Division I Coastal Carolina.

  • St. Charles East senior Izzy Howe went 15-5 this season and will pitch next year at Division I Coastal Carolina.

      St. Charles East senior Izzy Howe went 15-5 this season and will pitch next year at Division I Coastal Carolina. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
By Mike Miazga
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 6/13/2022 10:25 AM

Most life journeys -- worth a million bucks if they are worth a dollar to quote a well-used phrase -- have a beginning, middle and end to tell. A compelling back story.

In the case of St. Charles East pitching standout Izzy Howe, there certainly is a compelling beginning and middle, but when it comes to the end -- and here's the exciting thing -- that chapter isn't even close to being written.

 

The recent Dunham Road graduate and the Captain of the 2022 Daily Herald Fox All-Area Softball Team overcame a significant childhood setback to become one of the area's stud pitchers and now has a bright Division I college playing future staring her right in the face.

Howe is headed to Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina -- her dream school. There, she plans on studying exercise and sports science and would like to become a physical therapist. Why physical therapy?

When Howe was either nine or 10 by her recollection, she suffered a traumatic brain injury after hitting her head multiple times in a month -- the exact event/cause of it, she said, is unknown. She had a subdermal hematoma, a brain bleed in laymen's terms.

"It really impacted my life because I had to learn how to walk, talk, ride a bike, walk up the stairs all over again," she said. "Physical therapy helped me out with that. Helping people with their physical needs sounds like a good job to me. I like helping people."

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She also likes striking folks out. Howe, who plays for the Wasco Diamonds travel team, finished her senior season going 15-5 with 2 saves and a 1.50 ERA to go with a 0.78 WHIP (walks plus hits divided by innings pitched -- anything under 1.00 and you are in business).

Howe fanned 273 batters this season in only 139 innings and issued 39 walks. Seventy-two times an opposing batter took strike three with the bat on their shoulder. There were 57 instances where she induced a 1-2-3 innings -- the equivalent of throwing 8 no-hitters throughout the season. And in the pitcher's best friend statistic, she recorded the first 2 outs of the inning with no runners on base 73 times.

In other words, a great way to put a bow on her high school career.

"I definitely improved from last season," Howe said. "I improved with hitting my spots and my movement pitches were working very well this year. I have thrown movement pitches almost every game this year."

Howe said her rise-ball was highly effective this year. She throws a fastball in the mid- to low 60s, she noted, good physics fodder for said rise-ball to rise. She also throws a changeup, an off-speed curveball and a screwball. In this day and age of fancy $400-$500 bats and physically more imposing players, the days of relying on solely the 60-MPH heater are long gone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Movement pitches are important they keep the balance off-balance," she said. "You never know what's coming and then it drops in. It's good to keep hitters off-balance. More and more kids can hit a fastball. They get used to it. They know it's coming so you have to give them new pitches."

Her favorite pitch is the curveball. "Definitely. It has great movement," she said. "It curves a lot. It also drops. I learned it around 14U and then the past year and a half it got way better when I did throw it."

Howe started pitching around her 10U year when a coach suggested she try pitching.

At first? Not so good.

"I walked like 20 people the first game," said Howe, who is privately instructed on the pitching front by well-known area guru Jill Waldron. "Then, I realized I liked it. My mom and I would go down to the park almost every day and throw for 20 minutes. I was at least trying to get better. I found something I really liked. I like striking people out. I found something I was good at."

Howe said her senior year was enjoyable, in part because of the tough schedule East played. Her favorite game this season was the Saints' 1-0 nonconference win over Huntley where she went up against Red Raiders standout Jori Heard.

"That was a really tight game, which made it even more fun," Howe said. "I didn't have as many strikeouts as I usually do, but there was still zero runs scored.

"We played a lot of teams that were very good, which helped me physically and mentally as a player," Howe continued. "Physically, it's good playing tougher teams. Mentally, I didn't have to put pressure on myself that much. In games like that, you have two talented teams and you know it's going to be a tough game and I'll give it my all and put all my energy into it."

Howe said she will miss a lot about playing East softball.

"My coaches have been a huge help these past four years helping me academically and physically," she said. "I am going to miss playing with all these girls. Some of them I have known since I was eight or nine and have played softball with them. It will be tough leaving them. All these girls are very athletic and they want to win, but they also enjoy being there, which is also a huge help in my success. We took it seriously, but if we made a mistake, then we knew we had room for improvement and we worked toward it. Every time I went on the field, I had fun. It was so enjoyable."

St. Charles East coach Jarod Gutesha said Howe got the job done and then some, no matter the stakes.

"Izzy is a very competitive player, but is always able to maintain her composure," she said. "Just watching her, you are unable to tell the score of the game. She is a natural and explosive athlete and is able to be competitive at things outside of softball as well. She wants the ball every day and thrives in the spotlight."

Now, Coastal Carolina sits on the horizon and listening to Howe's voice, she can't wait to get there.

"Coastal Carolina has been my dream school for I don't know how many years," said Howe, who finished her St. Charles East run with 477 career strikeouts.

"Ever since I was little, we would go to Myrtle Beach to see my grandparents. That's my dream school and I never thought in a million years that I would play there. I'm thankful I committed there and it's a dream come true for me. It's a school that is amazing with good academics and smaller class sizes, which will help me. It's a small school, but it's still a big school. They have good football and baseball and, of course, softball. It's a nice school that has good academic and athletic programs and being by the beach is a plus."

Looking back, Howe was short and sweet when asked how she wants her time at St. Charles East to be remembered.

"Just as a Saint," she said.

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