Opposing teams game plan around Vassar College’s very own number three hitter, senior infielder Brett Zaziski, who forces Liberty League opponents to change the way they think and strategize about pitching to the entire men’s baseball team. He has also helped to change the way the competition views Vassar baseball overall, as the Brewers are now coming off their first playoff berth in program history.
“He’s just a game-changer,” explained sophomore Brooks English in an emailed statement. Zaziski is a feared opponent in the Liberty League, both in the lineup and out on the ball field.
On the season, Zaziski has three home runs, 15 runs batted in (RBI) and 22 runs scored while hitting .439 and also holds an on base percentage (OBP) of .553 and slugging percentage of .773. Zaziski is the team statistical leader in 12 batting categories: average, runs, hits, triples, homers, RBIs, total bases, slugging percentage, walks, hit by pitch, OBP and intentional walks. Zaziski also leads the entire Liberty League in batting average, runs, home runs, total bases, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. It’s more than just a hot start as Zaziski batted .449 last season and had a total of 20 doubles—which are both leading numbers in the Liberty League.
Zaziski started his baseball career at a young age. “I’ve been playing baseball since before I can remember. Since before I could walk,” he wrote in an emailed statement. “I’ve just always had a love for the game.”
He continued, “I became interested at such a young age because my brothers played baseball. I grew up around the game, going to Yankees games, and before I could even formulate memories, I was playing baseball.”
In high school, his team won the Conference and Group IV State Championship during his senior year. Zaziski was Third Team All-Group IV, batting .380 as a senior and .442 as a junior. He was also a three time All-Conference player, and two-time All-County player while lettering three years for the team. His accolades while at Vassar include earning All-Liberty League honors as a freshman. As a freshman, Zaziski hit .361 and led the team in hits and as a sophomore hit .331 and led the team with 31 RBI’s and 22 doubles.
The next year, he earned All-Liberty League and All-Region honors as a sophomore. When making a decision on what college to attend, Zaziski chose Vassar College for a variety of reasons. “I chose Vassar over the Air Force Academy because of Vassar’s terrific academics, their nice facilities and Head Coach Jon Martin.”
Teammates have obviously taken notice of Zaziski’s dominance. “It’s always fun to watch him play the game,” English wrote in an emailed statement. “He is also a great teammate, as he cares about making the players around him better as well. He knows the game of baseball so well, it has been a great learning opportunity playing with Brett.”
Freshman Trent Berg agreed. “He’s a great natural leader who leads by example,” Berg wrote. “As a freshman, he has been a great teammate to look up to and has had a real captain’s presence.” Sophomore Nick Johnson added, “Brett has been tremendous for the team all season long. He has pushed us to be our best and has really helped bring the team together as one.”
Coming off a year where he was First Team All-Liberty League, American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) All-Region and the Jewish Sports Review First-Team All-American, Zaziski has set the bar high for this season. So high, in fact, that teammates often joke about it.
“By now, he should have at least 12 home runs and be hitting .850 so I consider what he has been doing a disappointment,” English joked. “He is quite literally a man amongst boys.” Johnson added, “Brett has been otherworldly on the field this year.”
According to Berg, Zaziski’s success is not at all a surprise to him. “Brett was expected to be an offensive leader for us, so his league leading stats are not unprecedented,” he wrote in an emailed statement.
Zaziski said that what he enjoys most about college baseball includes the number of games that the team gets to play in a season. However, he mostly enjoys the team aspect of playing collegiate baseball. “The team chemistry is great; we all get along really well.”
He added, “As a team, I think we are the best in the conference. But anything can happen in baseball, and we are currently a little lower in the standings than we would like to be. Individually, it has been going well but I always feel like I can be doing better and this year is no different.”
Regarding the team and its season thus far, Johnson wrote, “Although a relatively small sample size, the team has been performing well. Our expectations are to make the playoffs and we are currently on pace to do so.” Berg also added, “The team is working hard to get to the playoffs which has been the goal the entire year.”
As for the offensive catalyst and the one-time Liberty League Performer of the Week (as of March 17, 2014), Berg continued to say, “He plays the game the right way and competes at the plate on every pitch.”
Off the baseball field, Zaziski is a Political Science major who enjoys watching hockey. The team will need to continue relying on the hot bat of Zaziski, as the season winds down and the playoffs are not far off.
As for after Vassar, Zaziski explained, “I have always wanted to play professional baseball since Little League.” He added, “I hope to get drafted or signed after college.”