Fox Chapel softball standout meets new challenges in 2nd season with Israeli national team

Saturday, July 8, 2023 | 8:01 AM

Izzy Zober will be playing in several international softball tournaments this summer. The 12-year-old Fox Chapel resident’s newest challenge will be trying to hang with the older age group.

Zober will be a part of Israel’s 18U national team for the women’s softball European championship in Prague, Czech Republic. The tournament will come before she plays for her usual 12U team in Italy later in the summer.

“I don’t think about age, really,” Zober said. “I just think about them like they are my age. I’m a good enough player to be with them. It doesn’t come to mind that they are older and stronger than me.”

Zober and her teammates are used to trying to take on new challenges on the world stage. Israel fielded a 12U national team for softball for the first time last season and placed second at the European Massimo Romero Youth Tournament.

Israel’s major win at the event last season was upsetting Italy, 5-3. The Italians had won the event in seven of the past eight seasons.

“Last year, there were a bunch of boundaries from covid,” Izzy Zober said. “Everyone is across from the U.S. and it’s hard to get practices together. In Italy, we used the Italian Olympic stadium for practice. This year, we’ll get to do the same thing.”

The Israeli team is coached by three-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist Leah O’Brien Amico. The team is made up primarily of dual citizens who reside in the United States, but there are three members of the 12U team who live in Israel. The 12U team has 15 kids on the roster this season.

It is a major step forward after the team’s first season last year, said Izzy’s dad, Yarone Zober.

“Last year, we struggled to get to 12 players,” Yarone Zober said. “This year, we were able to get to 15 and had several girls in Israel interested in playing. … It’s a big-time investment for people with time, effort and financial. Fortunately, we got a great group of families together and there was further interest after a winter camp.”

Zober primarily plays at first base and pitcher. Zober has been effective at throwing a drop curveball, fastball and rise ball.

The experience has been good for Izzy, who is able to get exposure to people from all over the country as well as kids from other countries.

“I like representing Israel and the Israeli people on the international stage,” Izzy Zober said. “I learned that softball is the same all over the world. Kids all over the world are the same. It was an easy transition.”

Yarone Zober is excited to see the program grow in the future.

Izzy is hoping to be able to continue to compete with Israel as far as she can go in the national program.

“It had been a dream to put together an Israeli national team at the 12U age level,” Yarone Zober said. “We encountered someone involved with the Greece national team and they were able to help us put things together.”

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