ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: UW-Eau Claire softball team

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- The UW-Eau Claire softball team has started out the 2017 season on fire as they return from their spring trip in Florida ranked 10th in the nation with a 14-2 record.

With experience, comes expectation and UW-Eau Claire knows that all too well. The two-time defending WIAC regular season champs are picked to win conference yet again this season, and they're ready for the challenge.

"There's no drama this year and we love working together every single day," senior Leah Wolff said. "That's really been it, just putting all the issues aside and anything else and just going at softball every day."

"One of our mottos this year is, 'Make it count.' We know the importance of every game and that's something we focus on, knowing that that is all that we can control," senior Lauren Blasczyk added.

The Blugolds return seven outstanding seniors this season, a class that's accomplished so much in their time at Eau Claire already, but one box has yet to be checked.

"They haven't been to an NCAA Tournament and that's really what's driving them," head coach Leslie Huntington said. "We just know that we have to win ball games and that's the bottom line. We have to win games so that's what our focus is."

"The sense of urgency is there this year," Wolff added. "We know what we've accomplished, we know what we haven't accomplished and it's always in the back of our minds. We're willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done."

And for the first time in 33 years, the Blugolds will be playing in their own home as they've made a permanent move from Gelein Field to Bollinger Field this spring.

"We're excited to have something that we can call our own," Blasczyk said. "We don't have to share it with anyone. We get to practice here, and we get to play where we practice now. It's definitely an exciting feeling knowing that we're starting a new tradition our here."

"What's really special is having our own place," Coach Huntington added. "I think that once this complex is finished up and the players see how nice it's going to be with Blugolds softball plastered all over it, they're going to have a lot of pride to play here."

The Blugolds will open up WIAC play next Wednesday at home with a double-header against UW-River Falls.

Reporting for SportScene 13, I'm Chance Dickman.

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