TWIN FALLS — The Golden Eagles took aim at North College Road in their first game of the Region 18 softball tournament to power a lopsided win.
CSI, the top seed and host of the tournament, hit five home runs — one inside the park — in a 13-1 win over No. 5 College of Southern Nevada on Wednesday.
Three homers came in the first inning alone, started off by Melanie Groenewegen, who is tied for first in NJCAA Division I with a .528 batting average. Her long ball stayed up just long enough to hop off the top of the fence and out, scoring the first three runs of the game.
“I didn’t think it would get out,” she said. “It was an inside pitch, and I sent it the other way. It just worked out.”
Tristin Evans added a two-run shot to right field, her 23rd of the year that ties her for fifth place in NJCAA Division I. The next at-bat, Jerome High School graduate Courtney Argyle launched her second home run of the season.
Anjalee Batchelor hit a liner down the right field line in the second inning, and as the CSN right fielder had trouble getting to the ball, Batchelor turned on the jets for an inside-the-park home run.
Siearrah Anderson capped off the string of five unanswered home runs with a three-run blast in the third inning. The handful of home runs pushed CSI’s season total to 126, well ahead of Yavapai (107) for first in the nation.
CSI head coach Nick Baumert, who was named SWAC coach of the year after the game, said the home runs were a product of a good approach at the plate.
“We want them to drive the ball early in the count,” he said. “Make sure they find a good pitch to hit. We also talk about hitting the ball gap to gap, which we did well.”
Even without the power, the Golden Eagles were in prime position for a win with Stefani Zimmerman on the mound. She earned the SWAC pitcher of the year award after the game.
She allowed only four hits and one run in her four innings of work, and her defense gave her some stellar support, including a fast line drive snagged by Batchelor at third base and a long throw from Hannah Peterson in the outfield to nab a runner at third.
“My teammates are a big part of this award,” Zimmerman said. “They always have my back and have come up big for me.”
The win advanced the Golden Eagles to the semifinal round of the tournament on Thursday against No. 2 seed Salt Lake CC, which beat Snow 5-3.
The Golden Eagles were well-represented in the first- and second-team all-conference selections, announced after Wednesday’s game. Seven CSI players were named to the first team: Zimmerman, Anderson, Evans, Groenewegen, Nicole Renner, Hailey Hicks and Mikelle Magalogo. Batchelor, Hadlie Henderson and Hannah Peterson were named to the second team.
Zimmerman earned her pitcher of the year honor fresh off being awarded the NJCAA Division I pitcher of the week. She has been named SWAC pitcher of the week three times, including last week.
“It’s a real big honor,” she said. “I’ve worked my butt off every day to get here, and it’s good to see it pay off.”
Baumert’s coach of the year selection is his seventh during his 12-year tenure at CSI, and it’s his third consecutive honor.
“I just have a lot of great people surrounding me,” Baumert said. “Our staff deserves this award as much as me.”