Like mother, like daughter - Tucson News Now

Like mother, like daughter

Tucson, AZ (KOLD) - Of all the college softball memories Dianna O'Toole made, only one stood out.

"The first time I ever got a home run hit off me," said Dianna, mother to Wildcat pitcher Danielle O'Toole. "I was a freshman in college. That was the last home run I gave up."

Not so long ago, Dianna was a 5-foot-nothing flamethrower for the University of California San Diego. By the time her college career was finished, her career ERA was .91, a record that still stands. 

"I loved the sport," she said. "I loved playing in college. I loved the friendships I made with my teammates."

Loved it enough that when the time came for 5-year-old Danielle to play a sport, the choice was obvious. By the time Danielle was 9, it became clear that her future was pitching.

"I watched my niece throw a game," said Dianna, "and I told Danielle, 'Let's go.' She said 'Where are we going?' 'To the car to get your glove.' And right then we started pitching."

Danielle is quick to admit that having a former star pitcher as a mother and mentor was a blessing, even if she didn't always see it that way.

"I did not like her telling me what to do for a very long time," said Danielle.

"The early high school years," said Dianna, "I knew nothing."

"We butted heads a lot," said Danielle. "We never argued. It was just me rolling my eyes and being a brat."

"I actually had to take her to a pitching coach," said Dianna, "because there were certain mechanical items that she needed to fix. And she really didn't want to listen to Mom because at that point, Mom really doesn't know anything."

It wasn't until Danielle's travel ball coach, Marty Tyson, finally convinced that maybe, just maybe, Mom knew what she was talking about.

"He would always say, 'Your mom is right, your mom is right, your mom is right.' At some point it just kind of sunk in. She was right."

"The one thing I remember teaching her,"said Dianna, "is there's nothing you can do about what just happened. What can you do about what's coming up? When she gives up a home run, she doesn't look where it goes. She just looks at the next batter."

"Make sure you're composed all the time," said Danielle of the biggest lesson her mother (and father) taught her. "Nobody needs to see you feel like you don't have it today."

These days, it doesn't matter to Mom whether Danielle feels like she has it or not.

"She is my best friends," said Dianna. "She is just a really good, warm-hearted person.I am so proud and humbled at the fact that she had so much determination to get here."

Dianna will always be there to lend support but the dynamic has changed. After all, Dianna knows Danielle is in control.

"I can see her read the batter. I can see her shake off the catcher. And I know that she knows what to do next. She knows what her gut is telling her to throw or not throw. When I see that pitch coming, I'm like, that-a-girl."

But back to that first home run Dianna gave up in college...

"I was determined that the next time she came up, either she was going to get hit by the ball or she was going to completely back off the plate."

And what happened the next time?

"I hit her with the ball."

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