Basalt graduate Zoe Vozick helps George Mason softball earn spot in NCAA regional
Nearly two decades of hard work clashed with lingering doubt in one at-bat on Saturday for Zoe Vozick.
With one swing, most of that vanished, her critical RBI single helping the George Mason University softball team edge Loyola Chicago, 6-3, in the Atlantic 10 championship game.
Not bad for the former Basalt High School standout whose new team is headed to the regional round of the NCAA tournament Friday for the first time in program history.
“That moment definitely felt like all my hard work had paid off and I had finally made it,” Vozick said Tuesday. “I definitely felt like I belonged there. I felt like all the hard work I put in since I started playing softball and even before that, when I started playing baseball and tee ball, all my work through my years came to that moment and allowed me to do that. I wouldn’t have been able to do that if my teammates hadn’t put me in that situation.”
She graduated in 2020 from Basalt High School, where she had been a standout for the Longhorns’ highly-successful softball team. In her senior season — she hit .667 — Basalt went 23-2 and advanced to the Class 3A state quarterfinals.
Late in the recruiting process, George Mason, which is just outside of Washington, D.C., offered her a roster spot. Without visiting the campus, she said yes.
“It was definitely really hard at first. Between never having come to see George Mason with it being such a last-minute pickup for them taking me, it was a shell shock moving from the small Roaring Fork Valley to suburbia Virginia,” Vozick said. “Also, I did not feel prepared on the softball field.”
Vozick, who did in fact play baseball with the boys when she was younger, said she didn’t feel like softball in Colorado, and especially on the Western Slope, even remotely prepared her for playing NCAA Division I athletics. Despite her personal doubts, she played a respectable amount as a freshman and sophomore, serving primarily as a reserve catcher and designated hitter.
Her playing time dropped this season as a junior, in large part from breaking her hand in the fall and also for playing behind Nicole Bechtel, the Patriots’ first team all-conference catcher.
But when she was called upon on Saturday, she made the most of it.
“I felt the most rewarded from this season,” Vozick said despite her playing time being down. “I got an opportunity to pinch hit this weekend in our conference final, and I got a hit, and that’s really when I fully felt rewarded, like I belonged on this stage. But it’s definitely a constant struggle.”
Her hit came in the fourth inning against Loyola Chicago, the tournament’s No. 2 seed, her RBI giving the Patriots a 3-0 lead. Loyola rallied to tie the game at 3-all in the sixth inning before Bechtel’s two-RBI double in the 10th inning put the Patriots up for good.
The tournament’s No. 4 seed, it was the first Atlantic 10 title for George Mason softball, now 35-22 overall. The win gives the Patriots the automatic qualifier into the NCAA tournament, also a first for the program.
“It was pure joy,” Vozick recalled. “Knowing we are the first to ever do it at George Mason was definitely something we all reveled in and are proud to have written our names in the history book. But what comes with that is knowing we are not done yet.”
George Mason was assigned to the four-team regional that includes Charlotte, Campbell, and No. 8 Duke, the regional host. The Patriots will play Duke in the first game Friday, beginning at 10 a.m. MDT in Durham, North Carolina. The game will be streamed on ESPN+. Regionals are a double-elimination format, with only one of those four teams advancing to super regionals.
Vozick said she’ll be ready to go if her name is called against the Blue Devils.
“We’ve been practicing off our pitching machines what we are expected to see this weekend, and it’s been really fun and rewarding to prepare for that,” she said. “I’m excited to see what I can do against some of the best competition that exists in the NCAA.”
Vozick is majoring in environmental and sustainability studies, with a concentration in environmental justice. After a study abroad experience in Spain this coming summer, plus a little time back at home, Vozick said she plans to return to George Mason for her senior year.
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