Dino, Gandia-Mak impress in Wahine debuts

Hawaii freshman Izzy Dino tossed a no-hitter in her second collegiate start. / Photo courtesy UH

This season marks nine years since Hawaii’s landmark run to the Women’s College World Series and the ripples of that remarkable spring continue to wash ashore for the Rainbow Wahine.

Izzy Dino and Mikaela Gandia-Mak were still in elementary school when they followed UH’s march to Oklahoma City and thrilled in the win over top-seeded Alabama.

“I remember watching them in 2010 in the world series,” said Gandia-Mak, who was 10 at the time. “It made a huge imprint.”

Last weekend, the UH freshmen delivered impressive performances in their collegiate debuts.

Gandia-Mak started in right field in her first weekend in a UH uniform and hit .500 over five games in the Hawaii Paradise Classic to earn the inaugural Big West freshman of the week award on Monday.

Rainbow Wahine outfielder Mikaela Gandia-Mak was named the inaugural Big West freshman of the week. Photo courtesy UH sports media relations.

Dino took a no-decision in her first collegiate start in the circle against Texas-Arlington last Friday. In her second appearance, she threw UH’s first no-hitter since 2012 in a six-inning win over Saint Mary’s.

“It’s hard to believe I actually did that, but I think it sets a new standard now in how I go out there and the hard work doesn’t stop,” Dino said. “I think mentally that’s where I have to be and I just keep pushing myself to get better.”

Dino’s first collegiate victory will likely stick in her memory much like the day she committed to join the UH program, July 22, 2017 — a date she can recite with the same ease as her birthday.

Izzy Dino
A little more than seven years prior to becoming UH coach Bob Coolen’s first Canadian recruit, Dino said she “didn’t know what college softball was and Hawaii was one of the first teams I ever watched.”

“I watched the legendary game where Hawaii walked off to go to the Women’s College World Series against Alabama and I remember thinking that was so cool. And my dad was like, ‘hey maybe you’ll play for them one day.’ And I was like, ‘yeah maybe, haha.’ It’s crazy to think it’s actually happening.”

In her debut in a UH uniform, Dino pitched into the sixth inning and was charged with four runs on eight hits against Texas-Arlington. The Mavericks rallied to take the lead in the seventh only to see UH answer with Brittnee Rossi’s two-run double in the bottom of the inning, giving freshman Ashley Murphy the win in relief.

Dino got the ball again against Saint Mary’s and her kept the infield busy with 13 groundball outs to go along with five strikeouts. The offense brought the eight-run rule into effect in the sixth inning, giving Dino UH’s first no-no since Stephanie Ricketts’ senior-day gem in 2012. She walked two and worked around two errors while finishing the game with 66 pitches.

“I knew around the third inning I hadn’t really given up any hits, but I didn’t want to jinx it,” she said.
“So I had to try really hard not think about it the entire game. … So (the mercy rule) was a great way celebrate.”

Mikaela Gandia-Mak

Gandia-Mak, who committed to UH prior to her sophomore year at San Clemente (Calif.) High School, was the only freshman in the lineup for last Thursday’s opener against Georgia State and reached on an infield single in her first UH plate appearance. She promptly swiped her first stolen base and later scored the final run in an 8-0 mercy-rule win.

“I just thought it was a huge honor,” Gandia-Mak said of getting the start, “because I’ve been dreaming about that moment since I was a little kid and now I’m actually here in college playing for a D-I school playing a sport that I love.

“I just got more confident and I had my teammates behind me encouraging me so it helped a lot.”

She helped complement Dino’s performance against Saint Mary’s by going 3-for-3, driving in two runs and scoring two more. In the tournament finale against Fresno State, Gandia-Mak contributed an RBI single in UH’s five-run first inning and closed the weekend 6-for-12 at the plate.

The Bulldogs rallied to tie the game in the fifth, but Callee Heen launched a go-ahead two-run homer in the bottom of the inning. Reliever Emily Klee managed to hold off a Fresno State rally in the seventh, stranding the tying run on third with a game-ending strikeout to seal a 7-6 win.

“It gives me more confidence and makes me believe in this team even more,” Gandia-Mak said of the dramatic finishes against UT Arlington and Fresno State, “the fact that we fight for each other and that we can count on each other to help each other out when we’re in tough situations like that.”

The Rainbow Wahine (4-1) were set to depart on Tuesday for Las Vegas and open play in the Boyd Gaming Rebel Classic on Thursday against BYU. They will face Fordham and UTEP on Friday and Weber State and Seattle on Saturday.


  1. haka February 12, 2019 2:10 pm

    Great job by these two freshman! And a big shout out to the 2010 team that shocked the ‘Tide and gave us that special moment no one will ever forget…Jenna’s blast from the past! That swing sent the youth and fans into a forever frenzy never to be forgotten. Go Bows!

  2. Kazu February 12, 2019 7:32 pm

    I think Murphy and Dino will do very well for UH. Didn’t get to see Glee yet, and of course they have Hitchcock back.
    When i look back to that Alabama game if i’m not mistaken Jenna scored all 5 runs for UH.

  3. cappie the dog February 12, 2019 11:41 pm

    1. & 2.

    I never tire talking about that game.
    I’m like a broken record on this.

    A. Alabama was #1.
    B. It’s the SEC.
    C. Hawaii beat them at their place. (And had taken a game off #1 Tennessee the year prior.)
    D. Beth Mowins probably cried.

    Nobody respected Hawaii’s home runs. They probably got rid of the composite bats, because it’s Hawaii, and not a Florida or an Oklahoma that holds the flashiest of records, which will never be broken.

    Is this the year?

  4. H-Man February 13, 2019 6:58 am

    Been watching and attending games since that wonderful 2010 season when Kelly Majam, Kaia Parnaby, and Jessica Iwata were freshmen. Stephanie Ricketts was a sophomore. Maybe this team has that influx of freshmen to bring them back to the NCAAs.

  5. A-House February 13, 2019 7:24 am

    Wahine win over top ranked Alabama was memorable in many ways — thing that stuck in my mind ten years later was the UH batter who fouled-off 12 or 13 consecutive pitches before launching her line drive home run over the left field wall

    yes, many good memories of Wahine SB!

  6. Hapaguy February 13, 2019 11:59 am

    That walk off homer by J-Rod was a thing of beauty! Every once in a while I watch the video of that homer on YouTube just to cheer me up….

  7. P.C. Ball February 14, 2019 10:18 am

    Jason, Izzy, Mikaela, Bob Coolen, KMaj, FANS, et.al…

    Thank You All for this story and sticking Thru with The (Still “intermittent”) Program…

    IF WE CAN get CONSISTENT Funding / Leadership…
    WE CAN Surpass The Alabama’s And STANFORDS of The Old World…
    At Least Some Times
    EX: Wahine AND MEN’S Volleyball, Often Times…

  8. H-Man February 15, 2019 2:25 pm

    Just read that Rossi, Gandia-Mak and Callee Heen were club teammates in California. How cool is that?

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