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Ryan junior feels right at home at 2nd base

Ryan junior Izzie Baron has been the team’s starter at second base since her freshman year. CONTRIUBTED PHOTO

Izzie Baron is now an old veteran, but it wasn’t that long ago when she was a fresh face.

Baron became the starting second baseman for the Archbishop Ryan High School softball team when she arrived freshman year.

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And while she was a softball player from way back, she was playing with a completely new team. Oh, and she had to learn a completely new position.

“I played everywhere growing up, but second base,” said Baron, now a junior. “Coach (John Kidwell) told my mom he was going to play me at second base. I was very scared. I was nervous because it was learning a new position.

“And I thought it was going to be really hard because I didn’t know a lot of girls on softball, and the ones that I did know were on (junior varsity), so I was joining a team without knowing too many people and I had to learn. I was very nervous.”

Those nerves were all for nothing.

Baron was a quick study.

She became a top second baseman in the Catholic League pretty quickly and ever since she was given the spot, she’s made it her own.

Her ability to adapt and learn was a huge part of why she found so much success at the new position, but she feels differently.

She credits those around her for helping her get to where she is.

“Even when I was a freshman and everyone else was upperclassmen, everyone was so nice here and tried to help me,” said Baron, who lives in Bustleton. “I was afraid because I was a freshman, they wouldn’t like me or think I was a good player or respect me, but I was wrong. Everyone at Ryan, especially on the softball team, are the kindest people. They helped me a lot and I tried to help them, too. We worked great together. Kayla Gray is the shortstop, she’s a senior this year, she helped me so much. I was lucky so many people helped me.”

The Ragdolls have been pretty successful since Baron got there, too.

After falling in the Catholic League semifinals during her freshman campaign, Baron helped Ryan advance to the Catholic League championship game in each of the past two seasons. In both games, the Ragdolls met Conwell-Egan, and in both games, the Eagles came out with the plaque.

Obviously that was disappointing, but it didn’t take the shine off a great season that Ryan enjoyed. The team went 9-1 in Catholic League play and didn’t suffer its second loss until the championship.

“All year we said we were chasing the plaque because we really wanted to win the championship for our seniors,” Baron said. “They deserve it so much. They’ve done so great. They helped this team so much.

“That’s the best part of this team is that everyone loves picking everyone else up. And our seniors were the best at that. You never knew who was going to do it. Every game someone was going to do it, and it was someone different every game. That made it special. Everyone had a role and everyone did their role very well.”

That definitely made the loss in the championship game a little easier to take. It also helped that that the Ragdolls had another game to play, a state playoff game.

Ryan advanced to the 4A state playoffs, but fell to Northwestern Lehigh 8-3 in a first-round game.

The loss ended the season, but was a perfect going-away party for the seniors.

“We knew after we lost the championship we had another game, so I think that helped us a lot,” Baron said. “We decided we were just going to go out and have fun. Play together one more time. We played some really good teams and had more time together. I’m really proud of everything we did.”

When Baron wins, it’s not just for her.

She’s also representing two great men in her life.

Her No. 11 jersey pays homage to her grandfather. His birthday falls on the 11th and she’s worn that for most of her career.

“I always wore No. 1, but one year that was taken, so I went with 11,” Baron said. “I wear that for my grandfather. It’s also my number twice, that’s what my mom said. I love it because it represents (her grandfather). He passed away when I was in fourth grade. I think he’d be really proud of me. He was the type of person who told you to do what makes you happy.”

Alex Baron (left) is his sister Izzie’s biggest fan. CONTRIUBTED PHOTO

She now has another guy who is always front and center at her games. He’s also the one who taught her a lot about sports.

“My brother Alex is a huge part of my story, he’s helped me my whole life, he got me into sports,” she said. “He was a great athlete, he played baseball, hockey, football and swam. At Judge he played football, but he tore his ACL so he coudln’t play his junior or senior year.

“It means a lot that he’s there. He always helps me with whatever I need and he loves sport so he comes to a lot of my games. He’ll always bring up my confidence and make me feel better after a game. He means a lot.”

And he’ll be front and center next year when Baron tries to make her third PCL championship in as many years. She’s confident because of her teammates.

“I think we can be very good,” she said. “We have a lot of great seniors, but they taught us so much. And we have very good underclassmen, too. I think we can be very good.”

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