Thu, May 23

Zielinski signs with College of Southern Idaho

Mingus senior Nikki Zielinski signed with College of Southern Idaho on Monday night at Vinnie’s Pizza. Zielinski will play softball at the Twin Falls college. (VVN/James Kelley)

Mingus senior Nikki Zielinski signed with College of Southern Idaho on Monday night at Vinnie’s Pizza. Zielinski will play softball at the Twin Falls college. (VVN/James Kelley)

Multi sport Mingus Union star Nikki Zielinski will be heading north.

On Monday at Vinnie’s Pizza, Zielinski signed with College of Southern Idaho softball.

“They have a great baseball program and a rodeo team but besides that (laughs) they have a really supportive community and team their motto is ‘to strive for perfection’ and I think that’s something that I want to live by for the next two years,” Zielinski said.

CSI is a community college in Twin Falls Idaho with an enrollment of about 7,615 in 2010. Last year the Golden Eagles won region coach and player of the year.

CSI assistant coach Cortney Clark said she expects Zielinski to adapt very well to college softball.

“I think she will come right in and make a big impact for our program, just based on her commitment to the sport and her work ethic and everything that we see I think the transition will be pretty simple,” Clark said.

Zielinski said she picked Southern Idaho over some Arizona schools and one Idaho. She isn’t sure where she will play yet other than in the infield.

“It’s awesome,” said Mingus head coach John Brown. “We’ve been looking forward to this for a long time and finally found the right home and I’m super proud of her.”

Zielinski said Twin Falls is a lot like Cottonwood.

Brown said she will represent Verde Valley and the state well in Idaho.

“She’s a great kid, she’s a great person, she’s an awesome softball player, she’s going to be very competitive, she’s going to be a game changer, she’s just going to represent as a good person, so I can’t she’ll do a bad thing, she’s only done great things,” Brown said.

The National Fastpitch Coaches Association recently recognized the CSI softball team as having the highest junior college team GPA in the country at 3.686.

Zielinski the recruiting process was long but worth the wait.

With college all set, Zielinski can relax more.

“It’s kinda been a thing she’s been panicking about for a while, making sure she can find a home and now that she’s done it, I can see her settling down and she can focus back on her high school ball,” Brown said.

Clark was two-time 3A Region Player of the Year and Arizona Small Schools Player of the Year at Show Low and went on to play at Arizona and BYU in college.

She said Arizona players have an advantage being able to play year round.

“We’ve had a handful of players from this area, Winslow, some from Phoenix, they’ve gotten up there,” Clark said. “Yeah, we look at the Arizona kids. They come in and it’s fun to have people from different areas come in and learn to play together.”

Although she has played volleyball, basketball and soccer for the Marauders, Zielinski said it will be just softball in college.

Clark said multi sport athletes are good recruits because they have to be committed and very athletic to do so.

The Golden Eagles are a NCJAA power and have sent players to dozens of four-year schools, like Utah, Texas Tech and New Mexico.

“They’re great,” Brown said. “They’re actually a national championship contender every year. This year they’re in contention for a national championship at that level, so I think it’s good for her, she’s a very competitive ball player.”

Zielinski’s signing party featured family and friends and past and present coaches and one future coach.

“This signing it kinda representing my seasons here, everybody who has supported me happened to make it (Monday) night and my parents definitely pulled that one off me,” Zielinski said. “So it was really great.”

Clark said she hadn’t been to a signing event like this one.

“I hadn’t been to a signing this big and this organized,” Clark said. “This is awesome, so I’m excited to be able to make it down here and come and be a part of it because it definitely shows the support system Nikki has and the kid I think we’re getting, it says a lot to use a program to get a kid like that.