Mariah Mazon's legendary career ends at Women's College World Series, but Oregon State is just getting started
OKLAHOMA CITY — When Mariah Mazon joined Oregon State softball five years ago, she had a vision for herself and the program.
"I thought I want to be that person that comes in and creates a name for Oregon State," she said. "I think I kind of did what I came here to do."
Mazon finished her fifth and final season with the Beavers on the biggest stage, leading them to their second Women's College World Series appearance in program history and first since 2006.
Mazon cemented herself as one of the best players in OSU history, twice earning All-American honors while setting the program's career strikeout record as the team's flamethrowing ace and developing into an elite hitter who batted .360 with a career-high 12 homers in her final season.
Mazon buoyed the Beavers throughout their 2022 NCAA Tournament run, pitching 39 innings, launching three homers and driving in nine runs as they knocked off No. 11 Tennessee in Regionals and Stanford in Supers — both on the road — to reach the WCWS.
"This is one of the best years I've had, like all the relationships with the girls on the team," Mazon said. "Oregon State in general just gave me a great five years. I don't really have any words. It's just been amazing, and I'm so glad that I came to Oregon State, chose to play under Coach Berg. ... It's just been a great experience. Unfortunately we lost, but I'm so glad it was at the Women's College World Series."
Mazon didn't get the full experience in Oklahoma City, missing Thursday's opener against No. 14 Florida after feeling ill. Once the medical staff cleared her to play against Arizona on Friday, she wasn't going to let anything hold her back.
"I just wanted to come out here and do it for my team," Mazon said.
To which sophomore outfielder Madison Simon added: "We all wanted to do this for her, too. It's her last time. That was mainly our goal. We just wanted to do everything for her. She has created a name for our program. She has done a lot, carried our team through a lot of situations. She's just a great teammate overall in general, too."
Mazon batted third and threw every pitch for the Beavers in the 3-1 loss. She was going toe-to-toe with Arizona's Devyn Netz before running out of steam in the sixth inning when the Wildcats grabbed the lead with an RBI double and single.
Still, Mazon pressed on, bouncing back to retire the final two batters of her career.
"Mariah has the heart of a warrior, the heart of a lion," said Oregon State head coach Laura Berg. "She embodies what Oregon State is all about. She is gritty. She's a fighter. She's a great teammate. She perseveres. If she has a bad inning on defense, she comes around and gets it done at the plate. She just is an incredible athlete, incredible young woman. The real world better watch out."
While Mazon's Oregon State career has come to a close, the Beavers are just getting started. They are a young team, Mazon being their only senior.
Next season they should return a core that includes some of the top talents in the Pac-12.
Junior first baseman Frankie Hammoude was one the best sluggers in the conference this season while second baseman Kiki Escobar finished near the top of the league in hits, center fielder Eliana Gottlieb started every game, and pitcher Sarah Haendiges proved to be a strong complement to Mazon in the circle.
All three made the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team.
Mazon will be their biggest fan.
"Yeah, it gets me so excited, I've told them multiple times," Mazon said. "In the beginning of the year I told Kiki, when I hugged her, I was like, 'dude, you're so freaking good. You have no idea. And you haven't even reached your peak yet. You're so young, have so much to learn.' That goes for all of them. I mean, I don't expect anything less. Like I see them here again next year. It's just going to be a great year for those freshmen as they continue."
Their new wealth of postseason experience should serve them well as they try to make the Women's College World Series a regular occurrence in Corvallis.
"I told them there were a lot of positive things they can take away from this season, some things that we need to work on and get at so we can continue on with the season," Berg said. "But for the most part they got a taste. They got a taste of it. It's like blood in the water now. They're sharks. We got to go after what it is we want. If we want to come back here, we need to get better at the things we need to work on."