By Chris Chaney
“To be the best, you have to beat the best.”
That’s an adage Bill Goldfuss and his Clermont Northeastern Lady Rockets have adopted for the 2013 season. Perennially among the top teams in Southwest Ohio and ranked No. 1 in the city, the Lady Rockets traveled down to Lexington, Ky. last week to test themselves like they haven’t all season.
“We’ve played very well, taking it one step at a time,” Coach Goldfuss said. “We’re playing good teams in hopes of positioning ourselves for down the road and make us better in the long run. We were very competitive down (in Lexington), but we’re not where we want to be, yet. We’re getting there. We’re working hard everyday in practice and we want to try and peak at the right time. We haven’t played our best yet, but we’re getting better.”
While hearing that the Lady Rockets haven’t had their best stuff yet is not good news for teams in the Southern Buckeye Conference, in which CNE holds the top spot, Goldfuss’ squad has their sights set on their immediate future with a goal of achieving greatness in a month’s time in the state tournament.
Becoming a familiar name late in the state tournament, the Lady Rockets are able to achieve that kind of consistency because of the familiar faces they run out on the diamond day after day.
A roster chalk full of experience, CNE boasts a core of senior leadership that makes up more than half of their roster. Among those seven seniors are some of the top talent in the state.
“(We’re led by) pretty much the same ones who have carried us the last few years,” Goldfuss said of his team. “Our pitcher, Emily Anderson; first baseman, McKenna Miller; shortstop Chelsae Osborn. They’re all seniors. Second base, Raelyn Reynolds. This is their fourth year starting varsity, so they’ve been there since the start and they lead us along with (sophomore) catcher Allison Gilkerson.
“All the younger players are getting better and helping as well, but our seniors are playing pretty well as a whole. And like I said, we’re not where we need to be, but we have two or three weeks to get there and I’m fairly pleased, not 100-percent, because if I was there would be no room for improvement.”
Prior to this past weekend, the Lady Rockets had only dropped one of their first seven games, a 8-2 loss to Edgewood that Goldfuss said was the only let down so far of the season. Other than that game, CNE had outscored their opponents by a combined 66-4.
Going 1-3 over the weekend in Lexington should toughen up the Rockets, but they can take solace in knowing that the three games they lost were to three of the best teams in the state of Kentucky. Scott County, Boyle County and Louisville Mercy are all ranked inside the top-10 in the state.
Now back from a hectic weekend, the Lady Rockets picked up where they left off in the Buckeye State, defeating Western Brown on April 22 8-4 in a performance that saw Anderson strikeout 11 Lady Broncos and also go yard from the plate. Gilkerson also hit a homer and drove in three runs.
With 10 games left on the schedule as well as one resumption of a postponed game, the Lady Rockets aren’t at the top of their game yet, but they’re close. And if they want to reach the ultimate goal, they’ll need to peak at the right time.
“Our goal is to get to state,” Goldfuss said. “We want to win our regional, get to state and give ourselves a chance. Ultimately, you’d like to win a state championship, obviously, but our No. 1 goal now is to get there and then see what happens.”