The Golden Eagles fell behind early and struggled to string enough hits together to elevate past Butler.
The NJCAA Division I Softball World Series opened on Tuesday at Choccolocco Park in Oxford, Alabama, as the No. 9-seeded College of Southern Idaho lost to No. 8 Butler, 4-1.
CSI knew it wasn’t going to be a small feat battling past the Grizzlies. Their starting pitcher Allyson Montgomery holds Butler’s all-time strikeout record after throwing for a career 398 strikeouts.
“She did a great job of commanding the strike zone,” CSI head coach Nick Baumert told the Times-News during a phone interview following the game. “She was able to bounce out of the strike zone and would bounce back, but we had trouble pulling the trigger.”
This season, she lined up 246 strikeouts for a tie at the sixth-place spot in the NJCAA Division I rankings.
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“It’s tough to prepare for a pitcher of that level,” Baumert said. “We felt our scouting was right on, and then it’s just a case of carrying out scouting.”
He added, “We left nine runners on base, so we had opportunities to score but just never got that big hit.”
The Golden Eagles felt the pressure.
They wouldn’t pick up their first hit off Montgomery until the top of the fourth inning, after Saige Nielsen singled.
She stepped up again in the fifth with based loaded, sending a runner home on a sacrifice fly and helping CSI avoid a shut-out.
Tessa Hokanson also picked off Montgomery to pick up the other hit CSI tallied against her.
The Golden Eagles are making their second consecutive appearance at the national tournament after winning a second straight Region 18 title.
CSI had the ninth highest batting average in the NJCAA ranking coming into the World Series at 0.394.
And the Golden Eagles aren’t finished yet.
They now drop to the elimination bracket and still have a chance at working back up to the championship game.
First, they prepare to face against No. 16 Gordon State from Barnesville, Georgia, who lost to Odessa College, 3-1, early today.
The game is tentatively set for 3 p.m. Wednesday.
The Highlanders carry a team batting average of .309, and a .531 slug percentage into the championship tournament.
“They are good, a top-quality No. 16 seed,” Baumert said. “We should have our hands full tomorrow.”
Butler took the lead during the bottom of the first against CSI. After two strikeouts, the Grizzlies found a single and then a double to set the stage for Cady Dickey’s at-bat.
Dickey went on to homer over center field’s fence to put Butler up three runs.
All scores were not reported before print deadline to provide full bracket details.