Local girl to play for Israeli softball team

It’s a home run for 11-year-old Claire Giardina, who will play for the 12U Israeli national softball team in Italy this summer.

The team, which is part of the World Baseball Softball Confederation Europe, will compete for the European Massimo Romeo Youth Trophy (EMRYT).

Giardina, a Bay Ridge Prep student, was 6 when she started playing softball in the Dyker Heights Athletic Association. She currently plays in a New Jersey league.

Last year, her father saw an ad for tryouts for the Israeli team.

“My dad became friends with the person organizing the team and his daughter came to New Jersey to play with us one weekend when we were short players,” she said. 

After hitting well and pitching a perfect game that weekend, Giardina was told she’d made the team.

“It is a big opportunity for me and also a great experience that I can’t get here in Brooklyn or New Jersey,” she said. “Last year was the first year Israel formed a 12U team [for the EMRYT]  and they finished in second place in the tournament.”

She’s also excited to meet her new teammates from all over the U.S., including Pennsylvania, Florida and Georgia.

“I’m also excited to visit places like Rome, Venice and Pisa when we play in Italy this summer,” she said. “Also, our coach will be Leah O’Brien, who won three gold medals for the U.S. Olympic team and three college championships when she played for Arizona.”

Giardina also hopes to have a career as a Division 1 coach.

“I like helping younger girls learn how to throw and hit better, and see them improve and love softball,” she said.

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