TWIN FALLS — No lead was safe except for 9-8.
The top-seeded College of Southern Idaho softball team went back and forth with No. 2 Salt Lake Community College on Thursday in the Region 18 tournament semifinals. The game lasted 10 innings, and Anjalee Batchelor sent the Golden Eagles (48-10) to the title game with a walkoff single.
“We really wanted that game,” Batchelor said. “Everyone was like, ‘This is our town. They’re not gonna do this.’”
The bottom of the 10th inning began with a leadoff double from Hailey Hicks. Nicole Renner flied out to left field for the first out, and Melanie Groenewegen walked to bring up Batchelor. The freshman lined a Kiara Grover pitch to left field, coach Nick Baumert waved Batchelor home and the Golden Eagles formed a yellow and white mob of joy near the pitcher’s circle.
“I almost started crying. Some girls were crying,” Batchelor said. “That was awesome. I’m so glad that happened.”
CSI would have preferred a much less dramatic finish, and it nearly avoided the 10th-inning heroics.
Hannah Peterson opened the scoring with a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the first inning, but SLCC scored two runs in both the second and third innings to pull ahead 4-1. CSI tied it with three runs in the fourth, and Tristin Evans blasted a three-run home run in the fifth to put the Golden Eagles up 7-4.
The lead grew to 8-4 heading into the seventh inning, but the Bruins chased reliever Hadlie Henderson with a two-run homer.
Stefani Zimmerman, who started the game (and was one of the Golden Eagles who cried after the game, Batchelor said), came back in but allowed two more runs in the seventh. A throwing error from the left fielder Hicks, who couldn’t record easy force out at third base, helped SLCC tie the game at 8-8.
The Bruins had a great chance to take the lead in the eighth inning, with runners on second and third with one out. But Zimmerman got out of the jam, and SLCC didn’t have a opportunity nearly as good in the final two innings.
Batchelor said every inning, especially the final three, required deep breaths from every Golden Eagle.
“But it was worth it,” she said. “It was fun.”
Batchelor’s single capped a 3-for-5 day. Hicks was also 3-for-5 and drew a walk, while Peterson and Groenewegen were both 2-for-5 with a walk.
CSI might see the Bruins (40-13) again on Friday afternoon. They will face third-seeded Snow at 11 a.m., and the winner of that game will take on the Golden Eagles at 1:30 p.m. CSI will have two chances to win the Region 18 tournament for the first since 2014, the last time it hosted the tournament.