Z-M grad showing her stuff at Eau Claire
By Pat Ruff
Bri Sturm is a senior pitcher for the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire softball team. Sturm, a former Zumbrota-Mazeppa star, helped Eau Claire to the Division III national championship last season and to a third-place finish as a sophomore. Sturm is the team’s second- or third-best pitcher this season and is 5-3 for the Blugold, who are ranked No. 7 nationally with a 20-7 record. She has a 3.80 ERA in 42 innings pitched.
You’ve pitched in two national tournaments with Eau Claire, winning one of them. What was the feeling of winning it all in 2008, and was it something your team had confidence it might do?
Coming into the season last year, I think we took one day at a time. We focused on improving and learning from every game, which we did. Winning a national championship is an amazing feeling and one that can’t be described. It was a great feeling to be the only team in the nation last year that didn’t end their season on a loss.
What are a couple of ingredients that go into having a softball program that is as powerful as Eau Claire’s?
Hard work and talent. There is one quote that our team lives by, which is "hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard." We always come out on the field with the attitude of getting better each day. That, along with great coaching, is how and why our program has become one of the best softball programs in the nation.
You were a star player at Zumbrota-Mazeppa, and its unquestioned No. 1 pitcher. How did you adjust to being Eau Claire’s No. 2 pitcher?
College is a lot different from high school, although it took awhile to learn that — you learn it fast being a pitcher. The best teams in college are the ones that have a full pitching staff, not just one. Each pitcher has her own strengths and weakness, and in my mind we bring out the best in each other. It’s a great feeling knowing that you have someone there to pick you up if you need it.
After four years of playing softball, what’s something about playing at the college level that you won’t miss?
Looking back on my career, I don’t think there is anything I wouldn’t miss. Although, yes, the 5:30 a.m. practices and conditionings weren’t enjoyable, but they brought our team closer together and just made us that much better as a team.
What about playing college athletics have you appreciated most?
The great teammates and friends I have gotten out of it. We have a very close team, and it’s an awesome feeling to know that you have 21 other girls on the team you can call if you’re in trouble or need someone to talk to.
When will you graduate? Once that happens, what’s next for you?
My major is health care administration, and my plan after this year is to move to the Twin Cities area and complete my year-long internship in Roseville. After that, who knows. I’m looking into different grad school options, but we’ll see where it takes me.