Tue, Feb. 25

New softball captain Nikki Zielinski is Mingus Union athlete of the week

Mingus Union junior Nikki Zielinski hits a double against Notre Dame Prep on Tuesday. Zielinski  had a .636 batting average and 14 RBIs through six games. (VVN/James Kelley)

Mingus Union junior Nikki Zielinski hits a double against Notre Dame Prep on Tuesday. Zielinski had a .636 batting average and 14 RBIs through six games. (VVN/James Kelley)

Mingus Union softball junior Nikki Zielinski’s work ethic has not only led to gaudy stats.

The Lady Marauders recently added her as a third captain “just because of her work ethic said Mingus Union head coach John Brown.

“She’s killing it,” Brown said. “She’s been doing a great job for us, she’s a leader, not just because of what she’s doing. She’s hitting the ball really well, she’s playing great defense but she’s leading.”

In Mingus Union’s 10-5 loss at Prescott on March 7, Zielinski had one hit and scored one run. However, in the Lady Marauders’ 14-2 win over the Badgers two days later, she was 4-for-4 from the plate, scored three times, had 7 RBIs, a double and two home runs, including a walk-off one in the 5th inning.

She also plays volleyball and basketball, where she was honorable mention All-Grand Canyon Region this season and soccer last year.

“She’s an amazing ball player,” said Brown, who has coached her since she was about nine. “Quite frankly one of the few kids I’ve coached that I think is a Division I quality ball player, she’s one of the few and I think she’ll end up with a four-year school.”

Through six games, Zielinski is hitting .619, has an on base percentage of .636, 14 RBIs and 13 runs.

VVN: How’s the season gone for you so far?

Zielinski: It’s going pretty good, started off pretty strong.

VVN: Were you surprised at how well you’ve been doing?

Zielinski: Well we’ve been putting in a lot of work, so it’s just nice to see it show.

VVN: How nice is it to rebound from a tough season last year to have one like this?

Zielinski: It’s definitely a difference but I think it’s our time.

VVN: How about for you personally, how do you think the season has gone?

Zielinski: It’s gone pretty good.

VVN: Is it kinda natural to transition from other sports or is it hard with these shorter seasons?

Zielinski: Well I think every sport helps for the athleticism and it just kinda rolls into one.

VVN: What’s your favorite sport to play?

Zielinski: Softball.

VVN: I saw you played soccer last year but basketball this year, how come you changed?

Zielinski: Because I wasn’t allowed to play basketball my sophomore year so I just took up soccer to stay in shape.

VVN: How come?

Zielinski: Because I transferred from Sedona and I had to sit out.

VVN: How’s it been like at Mingus?

Zielinski: Oh it’s been really good, it’s a great school, I really like it.

VVN: How are the girls? Like the Scottsdale (Notre Dame Prep) mentioned how fun you sound in the dugout.

Zielinski: It’s a great team, we’ve been together a long time, so it’s really fun.

VVN: What’s your favorite subject in school?

Zielinski: I like math.

VVN: How come?

Zielinski: It’s fun to just figure out problems.

VVN: How are you doing in school? I saw you had a pretty high GPA.

Zielinski: Yeah, I’m doing pretty good. I think grades are just as important as sports.

VVN: Where do you see yourself in five years?

Zielinski: I’m joining the fire science program at Yavapai so maybe that will be in my future.

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