Leetsdale softball standout follows diamond dreams to Carlow

Sunday, January 9, 2022 | 11:01 AM

Dreams, whether big or small, do come true.

Just ask Leetsdale’s Isabella DeGori.

“Playing college softball has been a dream of mine,” DeGori said. “Due to the pandemic, college recruiting for the class of 2022 was cut short. I’ve ran into a lot of dead ends with the recruiting and had been told by coaches it was too late for me.

“Also, due to eligibility, colleges gave their current players extra years to participate due to covid-19, which took away spots for new recruits. But I never gave up on pursuing my dream.”

DeGori, who plays shortstop and is in her third year as a charter school student, recently landed an athletic scholarship to Carlow, where she will continue her softball career.

“It has been a dream of mine to play at the collegiate level since I was 10,” she said. “I am very thankful for earning a scholarship.”

The 17-year-old DeGori, who is 5-foot-7, considered attending other schools, such as Penn State Behrend, Ohio Northern and Pensacola State.

“But none of them felt like home to me compared to Carlow,” she said.

As a freshman at Quaker Valley, DeGori received a varsity letter in softball and was named all-section. She also earned MVP honors at the Buckeye Recruit Fest in Columbus, Ohio.

DeGori, who also goes by Izzy, started playing softball at age 6. She currently is enrolled at AHCCS Achievement House Cyber charter school. Her college plans include majoring in criminology and minoring in psychology.

This winter and spring, she will prepare for her summer travel and fall tournament seasons.

The daughter of James and Megan, DeGori plays travel ball with the 3n2 Sports 18U national travel team, coached by Bernie Sersevic. She also has played for the Pittsburgh Riot and Pittsburgh Spirit.

“I will be training and practicing with my travel team,” she said. “My expectations for next fall include getting a top-notch education while I am a player for the Celtics.”

DeGori throws right, bats left (she’s also a slap hitter) and has 2.7-second home-to-first speed. She hopes to secure defensive plaudits in her first season at Carlow.

“Isabella always plays hard. She is a perfectionist,” Sersevic said. “She is a good left-handed batter and a slap hitter with a lot of speed. She is a very good middle infielder and can also play in the outfield.

“Isabella is an athlete that always plays to the best of her ability 100 percent of the time. She’s always trying to make herself better and I think that is very important.”

Sersevic believes DeGori and the Celtics are an outstanding match.

“I think Carlow is a great fit for Isabella because it was the school she wanted to go to and she’s also able to play softball there,” Sersevic said. “As a coach, the most important thing an athlete can do is get an education first.

“And I preach that when you go on to play college sports, you should improve every game you play and that the last game in your career should be your best game. Personally, I hope Izzy does both — gets her education and becomes a great softball player.”

Who’s been the biggest influence in DeGori’s softball career? Her dad, of course.

“He was there by my side through all of it, since day one,” she said, “encouraging me and pushing me to be the best I can be and catching me when I would fall into slumps and discouragement. He’d pick me up and work with me to be myself on the field again.”

Carlow competes the NAIA Rivers States Conference. The Celtics have made annual appearances in the USCAA tournament since 2012 with the exception of 2020 when the event was canceled because of the covid-19 pandemic.

There are 15 former WPIAL players listed on the 2021-22 softball squad roster at Carlow.

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