Zoe Vozick leads powerful Basalt bats into 3A state softball tournament
Crazy. Dedicated. Determined.
Take your pick on an adjective to describe Zoe Vozick’s ascent for the Basalt High School softball team. The senior has become one of the best bats in the state, regardless of classification, and has the Longhorns dreaming big with the 3A state tournament set to get underway Friday in Aurora.
“The big difference I see is she works hard. She practices in addition to our practice. … Last week after one of our practices she stayed with her dad and hit 100 balls after,” second-year BHS coach David Miller said. “You need confidence. I think you need a mindset that you are up there and you know you are going to hit it. And I think that’s exactly where Zoe is.”
Vozick was out there practicing in what she called a blizzard last weekend, something few players would likely endeavor to do. But it’s that drive that has her batting .680 this season. It’s that dedication that has her leading the team with 54 runs, 51 hits and 56 RBI. She’s hit 17 doubles, five triples and four home runs this fall.
Of those numbers, her 56 RBI rank second in the state behind only Makenzie Middleton of Golden, who has 60 according to MaxPreps. Golden is the No. 1 overall seed in Class 4A. Vozick’s 54 runs are fifth in the state among all classifications.
“I came into the season with a set of goals that I just have worked every day to reach,” Vozick said. “The team inspires me to reach those goals and I inspire myself. My family, just everyone pushing me to get better has helped.”
Vozick was plenty good as a junior, batting .510 with 24 RBI and 21 runs for a team that finished 9-10 overall and lost in its first and only regional game. The problem was she was about the only consistent hitter last fall for the Longhorns, while this year’s squad is loaded with hot bats.
Freshman Kiera Larson, who bats clean up behind Vozick, is hitting .471 with 39 runs and 34 RBI. Junior Maya Lindgren, who also is the team’s starting pitcher, is hitting .443 with 43 runs and 27 RBI. With so much power at the plate in the early portion of their lineup, trying to pitch around Vozick is tricky.
“When she gets up to the plate, she is not looking for a walk. She is looking for the pitch to hit out of the park,” Miller said. “Saturday, Maya was on second and they intentionally walk Zoe and I walk over to Kiera and said, ‘Make them pay.’ And she does. It’s kind of tough as our opponent.”
Basalt has outscored its opponents 303-113 this season en route to a 22-1 record and No. 2 overall seed in the Class 3A state tournament. It is Basalt’s first trip to state since the 2016 season, when it lost in the first round as the No. 12 seed to No. 5 Lamar, the same team it beat last weekend in the regional championship game it hosted.
“I’m just excited to be back at the state playoff,” said Vozick, who was a freshman during that 2016 season. “I tell myself at the end of the day, no matter what happens this weekend, I know that this season has been so rewarding for everyone on the team and I’m just so happy with everything that has happened.”
Basalt’s first game Friday is a 12:15 p.m. contest against No. 15 La Junta (14-11) at Aurora Sports Park. The Tigers happen to be the team that beat BHS, 13-6, in regional play a year ago to end the Longhorns’ season.
“I’m anxious to play them again because we didn’t play them very well last year and we are a different team this year and I’m sure they are, too,” Miller said. “It’s not like last year. We are in a whole different place this year. Our mindset is different.”
Should Basalt beat La Junta in the rematch, it would play in Friday’s 2:30 p.m. state quarterfinal game against either No. 7 Sterling (17-7) or No. 10 Montezuma-Cortez (17-6). The semifinals and finals are scheduled for Saturday, weather dependent.
Basalt’s last win at the state tournament came in 2013, when as the No. 9 seed it beat, of all teams, No. 8 La Junta in the first round, 15-1. BHS then lost to No. 1 seed and eventual state champion Strasburg in the quarterfinals, 10-0.
The Longhorns have never won a state championship in softball.
“Our hard work is finally paying off,” Vozick said. “Our energy going in is so much better. Our team this year is a family and the love, the support, everything just inspires me and inspires the rest of the team to go out and give it our all.”
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The winter prep season is upon us. But before we look toward this year, let’s flashback to last winter and recap what happened between the Aspen and Basalt teams. The 2020-21 winter seasons were overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic, with shortened schedules and cancellations.