Kaci Goedde has had herself quite a softball career at Central Hardin.
And she can’t believe it’s over.
Goedde has been around the program for as long as she can remember.
“I can’t believe I graduated,” she said. “It doesn’t seem real.”
Older sister Abbi played third base for the Lady Bruins through 2012. Kaci officially joined the program as a seventh-grader in 2014.
“I feel like I should be a freshman in high school still,” she said. “But, I’m not. I’m going to college in two months.”
And she’s going out being rather unique.
Goedde has been selected as the Area Pitcher of the Year by the seven area coaches and The News-Enterprise sports staff. She earned four first-place votes and tallied 26 points.
Meade County sophomore Mary Morgan was a close second, totaling 24 points with three first-place votes. Elizabethtown sophomore Trista Colasanti was third with eight points. Voting was done on a 5-3-1 scale and coaches couldn’t vote for their players.
It’s the fourth year in a row that Goedde has won the award.
“I feel it’s a really good accomplishment, but I wouldn’t be where I am without my coaches, my family and my teammates,” she said.
“That tells you a lot about her work ethic and how hard she works outside the game, too,” Coach Jamie Goodman said. “She works a lot at practice. The conditioning that she does in the offseason and the pitching lessons that she puts in the offseason, you don’t get that recognition if you don’t put the time in.”
Goedde has had a heck of a year for the Lady Bruins, who made it to the state tournament for the fifth year in a row.
She fanned 123 and walked 28 in earning a 19-5 record with one save through the 5th Region Tournament.
“I needed to get faster and more accurate, so I lifted,” Goedde said. “I had to work on hitting my spots. I’m not going to strike everybody out because I don’t have that kind of speed, so all I really needed to do is hit my spots and be accurate. I feel like I’ve gained speed. I feel like I’m more accurate.”
Goedde owned a 65-20 mark since her freshman season heading into Saturday’s state semifinal.
“When she first got here, she was a little nervous. You had to calm her down a lot,” Goodman said. “She’s grown up a lot. She’s been in a lot of high-pressure games. She’ll still get nervous and that’s OK. I’m one of those guys that if you’re not nervous, it’s probably not any fun to you anymore. She’s grown into a great role as our pitcher. She does everything we ask her to do. It’s been nice to watch.”
Her .762 winning percentage in high school has come with all sorts of pressure situations.
“I feel like I’ve been in more situations that make me better focused,” she said. “I’ve been in stressful situations that I’ve had to overcome. Region championship, I’ve been there before and I know I have to relax and focus. I can’t freak out, or get stressed out. I’ve learned how to overcome that.”
Central Hardin had a 3-0 lead on Green County going into the bottom of the seventh inning. The Lady Dragons loaded the bases and a two-out double made the score 3-2. Goedde got the final out on a harmless infield popup.
“She’s been in so many of them that she knows how to handle herself out there on the mound,” Goodman said. “She’s gonna give you her best effort. You’re not gonna win them all, but she’s done a great job of winning a lot of them.”
Goedde has thrown 63 percent of Central Hardin’s 256 innings, up more than seven percent from last season.
“I think my dad told me if he had another girl, she was going to be a pitcher. I think it just kinda happened,” Goedde said of becoming a pitcher. “Whenever I first started I had to practice every day and I’m not about that. When I was about 12, it really hit me that I wanted to be a pitcher. Dad built a big batting cage and every day I was out there pitching. He would yell at me, we would argue ... In the end, it all paid off.”
She now prepares for a collegiate career at the University of the Cumberlands.
“I know I’m gonna have to throw harder next year,” she said. “I’m gonna have to be better at hitting my spots and be more focused. I already have my summer workout for next year and I know I’m gonna have to get stronger. Everyone is good there. Everyone’s really good here, but it’s different in college. I’m gonna be a freshman next year so I’m gonna have to prove myself.
“I’m going to have to work hard and do my best.”
For now, it’s the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.
“I’ll miss the girls. We’ve all gotten close,” Goedde said. “I’ve been playing with Peyton (Beger) and Onnica (Nichols) and Emily (Bryant) and all of them since I was 6. It’s going to be different playing against them, pitching against them.
“I have had a really good team behind me that helps me every time I pitch. I have really good coaching and I have a great family that has helped me get here.”