Right off the bat — Violet Zavodnik’s path to greatness with BYU softball
Violet Zavodnik is a gold medalist, WCC Player of the Year and WCC Newcomer of the Year, and she is just getting started.
Zavodnik is not just one of the best players on BYU’s softball team: She is also coming off of one of the best individual seasons in BYU softball history.
She made her way to Provo from Murrietta, California. Her original plan did not involve coming to BYU. In fact, she first committed to playing softball at the University of Utah.
After playing on a travel team with future BYU teammates Carley Brown and Natalie Sicairos, Zavodnik started looking into BYU and quickly loved what she saw.
“We looked into BYU, went on a visit and absolutely fell in love with BYU,” Zavodnik said. “So I de-committed from Utah and committed to BYU.”
Zavodnik came to the university as a freshman confident but not with too many expectations.
“I just came in with an open mind, came to have fun and to be myself,” she said.
It didn’t take long for Zavodnik to show off her potential and leave her mark on the team. She knew after her very first collegiate performance she was going to have a good season and career at BYU.
“In my first at-bat I hit a home run against Arizona State,” Zavodnik said. “After that, I was like ‘I got this,’ and it just carried on through the rest of the season.”
That momentum and confidence did in fact carry throughout the rest of Zavodnik’s freshman season as she had arguably the greatest freshman season in the history of BYU softball. She finished the year leading BYU in batting average (.416), slugging percentage (.818), on-base percentage (.516) and RBIs (48). She also slugged 14 home runs, good for second on last year’s team.
Her incredible numbers and playing led Zavodnik to become the first player in West Coast Conference history to win WCC Player of the Year and WCC Newcomer of the Year in the same season for softball.
Zavodnik’s path to collegiate softball stardom came in a more unique way than most.
Lakeside High School in Murrietta does not have a softball team, so Zavodnik played on the baseball team instead. She didn’t see that as a disadvantage, however, pointing out that she believes it helped her in areas such as her hand-eye coordination as well as her range in the outfield.
Her high school head coach Casey Flannery believes Zavodnik’s impact on the Lakeside baseball program was enormous because of how she made her teammates better.
“Violet knows in order to win she needs the people around her to be better as well. Violet is a great player because she makes the players around her better,” Flannery said. “What makes Violet an amazing player is that she doesn’t just play the game differently, she thinks about the game differently.”
Zavodnik’s background is a big reason why winning the WCC Player of the Year and WCC Newcomer of the Year was so meaningful for her.
“Coming from a low-income school and playing baseball because I couldn’t play softball, knowing that I won felt so good because I worked so hard to be here and earn a scholarship,” Zavodnik said.
Her play last season helped Zavodnik land a spot on the Team USA U-18 Junior Women’s National Team. Zavodnik had a stellar campaign for the national team that included scoring the game-winning run against Chinese Taipei to win the U-18 Women’s Softball World Cup. Zavodnik deemed playing for the national team as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
High expectations from herself and from her coaches were sure to follow the breakout year Zavodnik had in 2021.
In an interview with “In the Circle SB,” BYU head coach Gordon Eakin raved about Zavodnik.
“She’s a special player for sure and a great team player,” Eakin said. “She is a first-team All-American waiting to happen and is just an incredible player.”
Zavodnik has gotten off to another great start to her sophomore season, batting over .300 so far this season with one home run and six RBIs while helping lead BYU to a 9-4 start.
“My ultimate goal all the time is to be myself and to have fun,” Zavodnik said. “I treat the game as a new day, every inning as a new inning. Having fun playing helps you enjoy the moment which helps you play your best.”