The awards are piling up, but pitcher Beth DiPietro doesn't let success go to her head.
By EMILY NIPPS
Published June 21, 2003
Riverview coach Angela Slater should not have been surprised by the reaction she got when she called pitcher Beth DiPietro to her office to break the news.
Still, it was a bit unnerving to watch DiPietro read the letter telling her she was the state player of the year and look at Slater with hardly a smile.
"I'm not sure she got it," Slater said. "I said, "Do you realize you're being recognized as one of the top 50 kids (softball players) in the country?' I'm still not sure she gets it."
DiPietro had not heard of the award, and although she eventually realized the importance of the honor, she wasn't going to do back flips or get on her cell phone to spread the news.
That's not her style.
It is not that she doesn't appreciate her stockpile of awards and trophies, which have been moved into their own room since DiPietro's older brother moved out.
She appreciates that her mother has filled several boxes of news clippings, including a nod from Sports Illustrated when DiPietro struck out 28 in an 11-inning game as a junior.
It's a rare occasion, though, to see DiPietro boasting, celebrating or looking excited. She reacts to announcements and prizes the way she reacts on the mound.
Her deadpan expression, her game face, is part of who she is, and she'd prefer to keep it that way.
"I am (low-key), and everyone tells me that," DiPietro said. "I don't let a lot of things get to me, and I try not to get a big head when I win an award.
"I do cherish the awards I get, I mean, it's not that. I guess I feel like no matter how many awards I get, there's still room for improvement. There are still players out there that are better than me."
She might have to leave the state to find them. DiPietro, who led the Sharks to two statetitles and three appearances, will attend Auburn in the fall and looks forward to meeting her match among Division I pitchers.
Matching the success of the past four years will be tough.
DiPietro went to Riverview in the school's second year of existence and made the Sharks an immediate threat. She led the team to the 4A state final, and DiPietro was on the mound when the Sharks won the title.
Her sophomore season wasn't as good, but the lessons learned helped the team to the 6A state title in her junior season.
This season, the Sharks made it to the 6A tournament but lost to Miami Palmetto 3-2 in the final. It was a major letdown to DiPietro.
Her high school career, however, is hardly a disappointment. DiPietro finished 78-16 with 980 strikeouts and she set the Hillsborough County record of 397 strikeouts in her junior season.
This season she was 23-4 with a 0.23 ERA and 280 strikeouts. She also led the Sharks with a .391 batting average.
DiPietro had no idea she was submitted for state player of the year. Slater did not mention it to keep DiPietro from being disappointed if she was passed by.
Slater didn't have much to worry about. DiPietro was a clear choice as the state's best player, whether she realizes it or not.
"Every time I see her, she still says, "You really don't know, do you?"' DiPietro said. "I just say, "I guess not."'