Izzy Cino, Toms River NJ Softball Wins State Little League Softball
In only its second year as a program, the Toms River Little League Softball All-Star Team made history.
Toms River, led by pitcher Izzy Cino, dominated the state tournament and won the championship by beating Cherry Hill American 8-2 on Sunday.
The winners travel to Bristol, Connecticut for a regional tournament with a chance to qualify for the Little League Softball World Series.
Toms River teams have won many state Little League baseball titles, but this is a first for the city on the softball side.
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Cino, 13, was part of the Toms River team that lost in last year’s sectional tournament to Robbinsville, who would go on to win their third straight state title in 2021. But for Toms River players , it was just a warm-up for their own championship run this year.
“We didn’t really get that far last year, but I knew it was the year we could do it,” Izzy said. “Getting as far as possible in these tournaments has been my dream since I was younger.”
Overcome the Robbinsville Obstacle
“When Robbinsville beat us pretty badly last year, it was like we couldn’t do anything about it, like we had no chance and all through this year we were hoping for another chance,” Jim Cino said. , Izzy’s father and the team’s manager. . “Fast forward to now, once we beat Robbinsville, this great team, we felt we had a chance. Everything started to fall into place – the throwing, the hitting – and the girls started to really gel. Teamwork has become excellent.”
Cherry Hill scored the first goal of the game on Sunday, but Toms River tied it 1-1 when a Brielle Troy hit brought Izzy home.
“Then at first we felt like our sticks were a little tight and sluggish,” Jim said. “Hats off to Cherry Hill because for a while the pitcher was throwing a lot of hits and not walking anybody. She got us swinging and that’s half the battle.”
Eventually, Toms River broke through with walks to get the girls on base and a bunt game from Troy that loaded the bases.
“After that, we just put pressure on them.” said Jim. “We started to relax and hit.”
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Izzy said she never felt alone on the playground during the state tournament.
“I felt like I always had a step back. Our catchers and everyone around me was constantly helping me and helping each other to win those games,” Izzy said. “In that last game, I knew a win was close at hand when we started hitting more and all of us coming together, started clapping louder. I feel like we’re going to get pretty far thanks to this teamwork.
“It’s great to have girls on the team who can step in when someone else isn’t feeling 100% and can relieve themselves,” Jim explained, “whether it was Izzy who was dizzy and who had to trade with one of the other four very good pitchers for an inning or our overheated catcher and Emma Eisman being able to intervene.”
All in the family
Izzy has a strong ballplayer pedigree with uncles who were All-County and a father who was All-Shore when they played high school baseball in Toms River North. His cousin, Connor Cino, played on a state champion Little League baseball team and now plays Division 1 baseball at the University of South Carolina.
Izzy, who started playing softball at age 6, is finishing her final Little League season but already has her sights set on playing Division 1 college softball one day.
“I want to be a D1 player. I want to be the best pitcher I can be, I just want to be a power hitter and I want to make history,” Izzy said.
For now, the dream is always to go as far as possible in tournaments, and the Mid-Atlantic Regional tournament in Connecticut is the last stop before the Little League Softball World Series.
“We try to treat regionals like any other game. The first thing is that these children must have fun. If it’s like a job or if they feel a lot of pressure from adults, they won’t play well,” said Jim, “so the first thing is to have fun, relax and make it all about softball. We haven’t gotten into strategy too much because we don’t know much about the other teams, but I think it’s just a matter of playing our game. Our game is always fast, our training is up to speed of the game at all times and the way we manage our training has been fundamental to our success so far.
Jim also credits the team’s community for being the foundation of their success, from the city organizing a fire truck dispatch, to regionals, to donations, to the role played by parents on the team.
“We wouldn’t be here without the support of great parents, coaches and the city,” said Jim, “especially how great the parents are. They understand their role and there is no ‘Daddy Ball’ as they call it in softball, where a father might want his child to play X innings at X position… I think that’s what has really contributed to our success at this stage. ”
“A big impact in my life”
For Izzy, Little League’s future past still holds some unknowns. She is zoned to attend Toms River High School North, but is still considering private high schools as well. Wherever she ends up, her goals for high school remain the same.
“I want to make it on the varsity team and then get as far as I can play in high school and college,” Izzy explained. “I love softball and I just want it to have a big impact in my life. I want to go as far as possible with it and this team especially taught me that I have the strength within me to succeed and to to succeed.”
“She’s been playing her whole life and was already playing at 14-year-old level when she was 12, so I think she’s definitely ready,” Jim said.
As for Jim, he plans to stop coaching Little League after this season but continue coaching Izzy’s travel softball team, the Toms River Lightning.
“I would love to coach in high school, I would love to coach in college, but at this point, that’s where I’m at,” Jim said.
The future of the Toms River Little League softball team after this season still looks bright according to Jim, between seasoned players returning for another season and talented new players coming from the U-10 team, who also participating in their state tournament this year. .
“Half the battle is having experience. The girls who have been here before will have the ability to take on these leadership roles,” Jim explained. “Lina Carr and Maya Ballacomo, who are both returning next year could certainly be the team’s spark plugs.
“I think we’ll be good for at least two years,” Jim said, “especially with the girls who make great teams younger. The whole system at Toms River seems to be continually improving.”
The team also includes Allison D’Addario, Ella Monica, Sofi Zydzik, Kelly Forrester, Gianna Monetti, Kylie Paladino, Summer Norton and Kayla Rasmussen.
The regional tournament begins Saturday at the A. Bartlett Giamatti Little League Leadership Training Center in Bristol, Connecticut, with Toms River playing its opener at 1 p.m. Sunday against Delaware’s winner against Pennsylvania. The tournament runs until Thursday, July 28.
Monmouth Beach intern Pari Walter is a rising junior at the University of Miami.