Blugold softball opens up conference play with two wins over conference foe UW-La Crosse

After multiple non-conference games in the books, the Blugolds put their skills to test in their conference-opener

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The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire softball team has used their non-conference schedule to its advantage as they prepare for its regular season.

The Blugolds competed in the Tucson Invitational over spring break, where they were faced with both weather and physical challenges.

This past weekend the Blugolds competed in the Illinois Wesleyan Tournament, where they finished (1-3), losing to Washington (Mo.), DePauw (Ind.) and Illinois Wesleyan.

Playing teams from out of conference and out of state for that matter, has given players the motivation they need to keep playing hard come conference play.

Before Tuesday’s games against the UW-La Crosse, the Blugolds hoisted a (9-9) record, which included wins over Gustavus Adolphus (Minn.), Carleton (Minn.), amongst others.

Having multiple games postponed, having to practice indoors, or having to brave the cold, tumultuous weather, the Blugolds have gone through quite the variety of adversity before starting their conference season.

Junior second-basemen, Leah Wolff said she and her teammates are excited to get the season going by playing in-conference opponents.

“We need to keep attacking both offensively and defensively in order to keep our positive momentum going,” Wolff said. “Knowing what we’re capable of, playing our best and showcasing our best are going to be our keys to success this year.”

The Blugolds put their preparation to the test Tuesday as they opened up their WIAC play in a battle against the La Crosse Eagles.

Eau Claire came up on top both games of the doubleheader winning (8-0) and (3-2) respectively.

Coach Leslie Huntington was pleased with how her team opened up their WIAC play, she said.

“I’m happy with how we came to play right from the start of the game,” Huntington said. “We showed our mental toughness and maturity.”

Transitioning from playing teams with no prior knowledge of to playing conference foes is a change Huntington is ready to take head on, she said.

“We approach every game the same. Moving into conference play, there is a whole new element of intensity,” Huntington said. “I can tell we are really focused both mentally and physically.”

The second game of the doubleheader needed eight innings to decide the winner.

Senior pitcher Zana Lorbetske came in to get the save after Lauren Blasczyk struck out seven batters in seven innings.

“I was impressed with Zana coming in and doing what she did to get the save,” Huntington said. “She was completely in the zone and executed consistently to get the save for our team.”

The Blugolds (11-9, 2-0 WIAC) will play another doubleheader this week on the road Wednesday against the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. They will return home to take on the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater on Saturday.

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