EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire softball team has released the 2017-18 schedule.
The Blugolds will open the 2017-18 campaign at the RCTC Dome in Rochester, Minn. Feb. 24-25. Eau Claire will see new faces on the field after graduating seven seniors, including Evie Schaller and Lauren Blasczyk who earned First Team All- Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) and National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-Region Honors last year. Rachel Heffel, also lost to graduation, was the Blugolds' other First Team All-WIAC selection who broke the school record for stolen bases in a season during her final year in the Blugold uniform.
"As always, we'll be challenged immediately on opening weekend," said Head Coach Leslie Huntington. "Playing in a dome isn't ideal, but we feel fortunate that we have the opportunity to get a few games under our belt before we head south for our spring trip. To add to the challenge, we're playing earlier than we've ever played before. Four weeks of preparation may seem like a lot of time, but with a very young, inexperienced team that lost seven seniors, we're going to have to figure things out quickly. I'm happy that we'll have a couple weeks to reassess between opening weekend and our spring trip."
The Blugolds will face Nebraska Wesleyan in their opening game followed by a matchup with Coe College of Iowa. On day two, Eau Claire will play a pair of Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) teams in St. Catherine University and the College of Saint Benedict.
The Blugolds will head to Florida for the PFX Games in March and will start the trip facing Pomona-Pitzer (California) on March 16.
"Our spring trip will continue to challenge us as we'll play 14 games in 8 days, but I'm looking forward to the number of opportunities we'll have to get a lineup figured out," said Huntington. "We've got a lot of positions to be decided, and we feel the competition in practice every day is going to help prepare our players for this type of schedule, as well as the always-tough WIAC. Our players are excited for the challenges ahead and we look forward to great opportunities for growth in our team."
Following their trip south, the Blugolds will face St. Norbert College on the road before opening WIAC play on April 7 at UW-La Crosse and at UW-Platteville April 8. The home-opener is slated for April 12 against I-94 rival UW-Stout. Follow the action all season long on Blugold Game Day or download the athletics app for game day links and notifications to your mobile phone.