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Michigan's Audrey LeClair Is Ready To Fill Unexpected Role

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(Photo by Terrance Coakley)

As her senior season approaches, Audrey LeClair couldn’t be more prepared to take on any challenge that faces her in the months ahead.

As a utility player for the University of Michigan, LeClair used the offseason to transition into a third baseman, a position she hadn’t played since high school. The majority of her college softball career was spent in the outfield, but when a hole was spotted in the infield, she knew she could rise to the occasion.

“I like being able to step up when my name is called,” LeClair said. “Being utility is a way for me to expand on those opportunities. It is a lot of fun to be able to say, ‘I am utility, I played right field last year, now I’m at third.’ People are always saying, ‘well that’s a big switch,’ but I am used to it, it’s what I do. I’m back like I never left, and that’s just one of the cool things about being a utility player.”

At the start of last season, LeClair was in the tough position of not playing as much as she had hoped to. But when teammate Lexie Blair went down with an injury, LeClair jumped in right where she was needed in both the outfield and the lineup.

“Coach Hutchins’ big thing was always be ready when your name is called and be the next woman up,” LeClair said. “I wasn’t playing and I had to take that opportunity and do as well as I could. It was nice to get into the lineup and I never wanted to leave, so I hit as well as I could and played as well as I could.”

With Coach Hutchins' retirement, Coach Bonnie Tholl will take on her first season as head coach of the Wolverines in 2023. LeClair is looking forward to learning as much as she can from Tholl in the time she has left at Michigan.

“Her softball IQ is so high,” LeClair said. “We are getting a lot more in depth with why we do certain things, why we do things at a certain count and why we do things in a certain defensive situation. Coach Tholl has a really smart thought process that we all enjoy hearing. It has been different (without Coach Hutchins), but not in a bad way at all.”

Along with Coach Tholl, the additions of assistant coach Amanda Chidester and volunteer coach Faith Canfield have helped LeClair improve her offensive strategy. She posted a .323 batting average last year, but this season, LeClair is hoping to improve upon that mark and become a mainstay in the lineup.

“I hit the weight room a lot this summer and I have incorporated some extra lifts and workouts to get my strength up so I can have power hitting in my tool belt a bit more,” LeClair said. “Working with our new hitting coaches, Chiddy and Faith, has brought my strength to a new horizon. This offseason, we worked on different pitches and different situations with hitting.”

Now in a top leadership position as an upperclassman, LeClair strives to be the loudest voice heard on the field and in the dugout. She ultimately wants to make it the most comfortable environment for her teammates.

“I am definitely vocal,” LeClair said. “I think the reason why it’s so important is because we have young people on the team and I was one of those at one point. Hearing a senior or upperclassman speak and keeping the energy up relaxes those nerves. My main focus when I speak is to remind my team that it’s just a game. I want my teammates to enjoy what they do.”

With her go-getter mentality, LeClair can’t wait to see what’s in store for her last few months at Michigan. While chasing a Big Ten title and a World Series appearance, she wants to enjoy every aspect of the game while she still has the chance to.

“I didn’t believe everyone when they said it would go by in the blink of an eye, but it definitely did,” LeClair said. “I want to have fun because I know that this time may be coming to an end soon, and I want to be able to enjoy it.”

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