By Chris Chaney
The Clermont Northeastern Lady Rockets are right where they need to be.
Head coach Bill Goldfuss has been stressing all season to his team as well as the media that they need to peak at the right time. And as recently as May 20 in the sectional championship, Goldfuss did not believe they had yet, but with a 5-0 win over Carlisle in the district championship behind 16 strikeouts from senior pitcher Emily Anderson, Goldfuss believes his team has finally reached their potential.
“I think were where we need to be,” Goldfuss said. “All three aspects of the game — pitching, hitting, defense — played as well as we has all year (against Carlisle).
“(The game) Saturday was a great indication of that. Great pitching, good defense and timely hitting. I think we’re at the point now where we’re playing about as well as we can play.”
Naturally, the Lady Rockets’ games have gotten tougher and tougher with each passing round of the state tournament and the district title was no exception. In the only game yet to be shortened due to run-rule, CNE took down Carlisle with precision pitching and opportune hitting, thanks in large part to the core of seniors who have been there before.
“It’s just that time of the year,” Goldfuss said when asked about what is helping his team to click. “We’re at the end with these seniors. They’ve been balanced for four years. We’ve been in tough games, we’ve been in big games and they know what it takes; they know the competition level is higher so they ramp up their game a little bit.
“They’re just locked in and focused. We have a goal and they’re trying to reach that goal that we set.”
The goal is to make it to state. Plain and simple. Once the Lady Rockets get to state — if they can — it’s all gravy, let the chips fall where they may.
Heading into the postseason, the Lady Rockets set that goal to get to state. For them, it meant winning six games, taking each game one at a time, not looking ahead.
58 runs later against none given up in the postseason and the Lady Rockets are on the precipice of that goal.
A lot of what the Lady Rockets do is predicated on their style of play. They know what they will get day in and day out in the circle with Toldeo-commit Anderson, but the other aspects of their game are what move teams from their heels to their backs wondering what hit them.
CNE employs a hectic, high-stress game plan that forces their opponents into mistakes. Always keen to take an extra base or test a catcher’s arm, the constant possibility of being put on the spot to make the big play daunts many of their opponents into making those mistakes that the Lady Rockets thrive upon.
The next into the gauntlet will be Casstown Miami East, 2-0 winners over Middletown Madison in the Tipp City 2 district final. Goldfuss and his team were able to have a front-row scouting seat as Miami East played directly before them on Saturday, May 25 and Goldfuss said he has reason to be optimistic given what he saw and how his team is playing.
“They have a decent pitcher, similar to (Carlisle, who) we played on Saturday,” the coach said. “I think they’re a little better than the team we played on Saturday.
“We’ll have to play well, obviously, because once you get to this point, everybody’s good or else they wouldn’t be there, so we’re not going to underestimate any body.”
Miami East is simply the next team up in a long line of team’s that have tried to slow down the Lady Rockets. Four games into their six-game postseason goal, CNE is hitting on all cylinders and looking to take that next step.
One thing is for sure, Goldfuss said, the girls know what each game means.
“We’re optimistic, we have a lot of confidence,” Goldfuss said. “Our girls believe in each other, it’s not necessarily about who we play, it’s about how we play. It’s a matter of if we play our game, we’ll have a chance.”
Felicity Falls: Perhaps surprise of the spring in Clermont County sports and definitely in softball, has been the inspired run of the Felicity-Franklin Lady Cardinals.
A relatively young team, fresh off of a state semifinal appearance and without their go-to pitcher, the Lady Cardinals made a run back towards state, getting as far as the district title game on Friday, May 24, where they lost to Brookville, 3-1.
Despite having their season ended, head coach Rob Wear and his team turned a lot of heads and built up some confidence for seasons to come.