For Division II schools in Southwest Ohio, Ross is the barometer by which softball teams are measured.
Consider the Lady Rams have won 17 district championships in the past 28 seasons. They won a state championship in 2009.
“They have a good program,” CM coach Anthony Lauer said. “They play a very tough schedule. They play a lot of Div. I schools, top-notch Div. I schools.”
Clinton-Massie will face Ross at Noon Saturday at Mason High School in a Div. II Mason District championship game. The winner moves on to the Div. II Region 8 tournament at Mason High School May 25 against the winner of the West Carrollton 2 District, either Kenton Ridge or Western Brown.
The Lady Falcons are 24-0 on the season while Ross, under legendary coach Paul Fernandez, comes into the game at 18-7. During his tenure at Ross, Fernandez has led the Lady Rams to nearly 600 victories since 1992.
While Clinton-Massie was winning the South Central Ohio League championship this season, Ross was sharing top honors in the Southwest Ohio Conference with Edgewood.
“We have been working, the past couple of days, on things we know Ross likes to do,” Lauer said. “They like to play small ball, drop down bunts, utilize their speed. But they are more well-rounded as far as the offensive side goes. They have a couple of girls who can hit the ball well.”
And the Lady Rams always have good pitching. Kenzie Meyer is the latest in line of dominating hurlers for Ross. She is 13-5 this season with 115 strikeouts in 116 innings. Kelsey Warman has good numbers as well with 47 strikeouts in 40 innings.
Ally Ivey (.551), Warman (.548) and Annie Hinterlong (.528) all bring plus-.500 batting averages into the game. Ivey and Warman both have three homeruns; Ivey has 40 runs batted in while Warman has 32.
Hinterlong leads the Lady Rams with 26 stolen bases but Maddy Foster had 18 and Ashley Parrett has 12.
And Ross’ offense has been in high gear the past three games with tournament wins by scores of 14-1 over Mount Healthy, 16-0 over Indian Hill and 20-1 over New Richmond.
“This is, by far, if you look at our schedule, this is our toughest game of the season,” Lauer said. “Our focus has been on doing the little things. If we do the things we’ve been doing, we’ll be fine.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, or on Twitter @wnjsportsReach