The Blue Devils' catcher backs up her words with her actions.
By BILL SULLIVAN
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
BERLIN CENTER -- Four years ago, Joe Serensky noticed an intense eighth-grade basketball player and was impressed with her leadership skills and hard work.
That player was Ronda Barth, now the senior catcher on the Western Reserve High softball team coached by Serensky.
Thursday at 3:30 p.m. the Blue Devils (17-4) will meet Mogadore in a Division IV district semifinal game at Brookside Park in Ashland.
Attributes: "She was a hard worker and was so intense, that's the thing about her," Serensky said.
Barth started to play softball at age 5, was a catcher at 6 and was a starter on a 9-10-age group team that won an Ohio championship.
She has been the starter at Western Reserve since she was a freshman.
"She has always taken charge; she makes sure everybody has their head in the game," Serensky said.
Barth said, "I enjoy the leadership. I want to go into softball coaching. If anyone needs help, I talk to them to help them."
Barth has produced admirable numbers both on the softball diamond and in the classroom.
As the Blue Devils' leadoff hitter, she is batting .557 (34-for-61) with just one strikeout this year.
However, it was the 3.48 grade point average (on a 4.00 scale) that helped draw the college scouts. She is 12th academically in her class.
She was recruited by Youngstown State and Kent State. Although her mother, Pam, liked Kent State the best, Ronda chose Mount Union College.
"I liked the small campus. It was easy going there. It was real nice there," Barth said.
She will major in sports management and business.
"She's an honor roll student and yearbook staff editor," Serensky said. "Based on her ability -- she's involved in things in the school, and a great student -- she'll do [well] in college. The teachers have good things to say about her."
Barth has twice been first-team All-Inter-County League catcher and has the school record for highest batting average (.580 in 1999).
"She's never late for practice," Serensky said. "She is always ready to go and spend extra time on her hitting.
"She is always trying to help me."
Ronda is also the leadoff hitter on the team since she such a good contact hitter.
"She gets things done. She's a good base runner," Serensky said.
Focus: Ronda began playing on traveling softball teams by the time she was 10 and "lives and dies softball," her mother said.
"She gives up all her summers," Pam Barth said. "She never goes to the graduation parties [or] amusement parks with her friends.
"She has given that up since she was 11 ... the sleep-overs and the birthdays parties and the swimming, for the softball. She has worked for everything she got. She has sacrificed."
Softball has given her a chance to see much of the United States. She has played in Texas, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Illinois and Michigan. Softball will take her to play in Virginia twice this summer.
""She is very determined," Western Reserve principal Jeff Zatchok said. "She knows what she wants to do.
"In softball and in the classroom she knows what to do. Ronda is a great, all-around kid."