By Mike Deak
WARSAW – There are likely hundreds of these stories out there across the country, but her story is one that should be told. Years and years of grounders and swings after practices, driving across the country to get some experience, and hopefully get noticed built character. And eventually, the work paid off, and Isabelle “Izzy” Dittmar got the look she wanted, earning a college scholarship with Indiana Tech to play softball. That experience is still on par, but Dittmar has a lot of work to do before she heads to Fort Wayne.
Dittmar had a huge junior season for the Warsaw softball team. She led the Lady Tigers in five major offensive categories, including doubles (8), homers (3), RBI (24), batting average (.370) and on-base percentage (.457). The two-time All-Northern Lakes Conference performer also had 30 hits, 17 runs scored and walked 12 times while striking out just nine times in 94 plate appearances.
Her batting average improved dramatically from her freshman year, where she hit .263, then jumped to .329 as a sophomore.
Dittmar was one of 11 Warsaw athletes who made their college announcements public in December. The focus at the time was prepping for the spring high school season, but the pandemic changed all of that. So did an elbow injury.
“I had a ulnar nerve transposition and also had plica removal from my throwing (right) elbow,” Dittmar said. “I have definitely worked extra hard to get back my arm strength. I rehabbed with Evan Jurjevic at Parkview/SportOne Fieldhouse. I utilized blood flow restriction therapy and a specific throwing program. I was fully prepared to begin the season.”
Once the IHSAA season was officially canceled, DIttmar’s softball focus went entirely to her next steps for (hopefully) summer travel tournaments and the lead-in to integrating to Tech’s program.
“My focus now is the travel season and getting back to competing,” Dittmar said. “I’m working now on my hitting with Rachel Folden and Audra May, increasing my throwing velocity, getting stronger and quicker and just preparing for the college game.”
For Dittmar and many others who are trying to rehab at home during the shutdown, doing it properly and making sure the recovery is happening can be tough. But the professionals are finding ways to help, even if doing so virtually.
“Proper form is critical to avoid reinjury,” said Nathan Steigmeyer, Director of Outpatient Rehabilitation Services for Optimum Performance Therapy at MedBridge in Fort Wayne. “During the early phases of rehab, it is crucial to stress this over everything else. Athletes need constant feedback regarding proper technique. We want to pattern good movements – 15 repetitions with bad form just reinforces bad form and compensations. Like any task, they need to learn how to do it before they can master it.”
Dittmar’s future head coach, Indiana Tech’s Stephanie Zimny, has seen Dittmar’s progress from afar as the two have kept in contact in recent weeks. Zimny is looking at Dittmar as a catcher, and knows one of her 2020 recruits carries exceptional value to be healthy and ready to go.
“My concerns are normal, nothing out of the ordinary,” Zimny said. “Everyone’s bodies are different. She made a decision and took care of an issue that was causing her pain. From talking with her, recovery is going great and she is working back
to her “normal” routine. That’s great news.”