The UW-Green Bay softball team clinched its second conference tournament title and NCAA post-season bid in program history Saturday afternoon with a 9-0 dismantling of Valparaiso in the Horizon League tournament in Dayton, Ohio.
Later that evening, Phoenix players and coaches were welcomed home after their return flight to Austin Straubel International Airport in Green Bay. Phoenix fans wearing green bandanas — the headwear of choice among the team’s most loyal supporters — offered posters, balloons and cheers as the team showed off its conference championship hardware.
The green-bandana greeting was especially meaningful, in that it was primarily a core group of Phoenix women’s softball players who started the Green Bandana Brigade cheering section a few years ago to root on their fellow student athletes at volleyball, basketball and other Phoenix home games. The tradition has since expanded to include other student and community “members.”
On Sunday evening Coach Jean Rivett and her players gathered in the Special Events Room of the Kress Events Center to watch the NCAA Tournament pairings show. Green Bay (27-12) was assigned to the University of Minnesota regional. The Gophers, champions of the Big Ten tournament, earned the No. 16 overall seed and will host Green Bay, North Dakota State and Auburn in the double-elimination format. Green Bay and Minnesota will square off on Friday evening at 6:30 to start the tourney. The complete interactive bracket is available here.
This will be the second NCAA Tournament appearance for the Phoenix in program history, as it also advanced during the 2005 season. Green Bay is 1-2 in the NCAA postseason, opening the 2005 postseason with a win over Oregon State before dropping consecutive contests to DePaul and Oregon State to bow out of the double-elimination tournament.
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Photos by Cheyenne Makinia, student intern, Marketing and University Communication
Details have yet to be finalized but it’s looking good for some sort of event at noon or so next Friday (March 7) in the University Union to get teams, campus and fans fired up for March Madness. The Phoenix men’s basketball team will be getting ready to host the Horizon League tourney and lock down a spot in the Big Dance. The women’s team will be prepping for its final regular-season home game and a down-to-the-wire race for the right to host the conference tourney. We’ll let you know as soon as we can.
Fans unable to make the trip down to watch No. 11 seed Green Bay battle sixth-seeded LSU in Baton Rouge, La. on Sunday can follow the action in a Phoenix Fan viewing party. In partnership with The Bar East, the UW-Green Bay Alumni Association and the Phoenix Fund will sponsor the event held on Sunday at 6 p.m. Space will be reserved at The Bar East for the viewing party as fans watch Green Bay take on the Lady Tigers on ESPN2 at 6:30 p.m. The Bar, Alumni Association and Phoenix Fund will sponsor a variety of food items including pizza and chicken wings, and those in attendance can also purchase additional items off the menu. With questions regarding the event, please contact UW-Green Bay Advancement Director of Development Jeanne Stangel at (920) 465-2018 or StangelJ@uwgb.edu.
UW-Green Bay’s pride in basketball standout Julie Wojta has followed her to Minnesota Lynx training camp — where she certainly hasn’t forgotten the Phoenix faithful. A team training camp story that appeared online Tuesday (May 1) details the ongoing connection between UW-Green Bay and Wojta, its first-ever WNBA draftee. “The support that our team has from the community and just my teammates, they’ve all jumped on and really made this exciting for me,” she said. “They love every second of it and are helping me enjoy it as well.” As we told you earlier, a group of Phoenix fans will travel by bus for the Lynx’s May 15 home game in Minneapolis. Read the training camp story.
Fans and friends who want to greet, cheer and congratulate the UW-Green Bay women’s basketball team on its return from the NCAA Tournament might be interested to know the team is scheduled to return to the Kress Events Center at about 11:45 a.m. today (Tuesday, March 20). A police escort is planned for their bus ride from the airport.
For those of you who missed the late show Monday, the women faced a 17-point halftime deficit but came roaring back to take a brief lead. Unfortunately, they couldn’t hang on, and ultimately lost 65-62 to the No. 2 seed Kentucky Wildcats. But with a 31-2 record and a No. 10 national ranking, the Horizon League champs have plenty to celebrate. Help welcome them back at about 11:45 today — we’ll keep you posted if the time changes — near the turf gym entrance of the Kress (east side of the building, around the back).
It’s no secret that Phoenix women’s basketball fans love their team and its players — junior guard and De Pere High School grad Adrian Ritchie among them. But perhaps Ritchie’s loudest and proudest cheerleaders are her sisters, 23-year-old Erica and 18-year-old Jillian. Monday’s (March 19) Press-Gazette has a fun feature on the family, worth a read ahead of tonight’s tip-off. The game will be televised on ESPN2 — just look for the sign that says “proud sisters of 13” (Adrian’s number). See story and video.
Hundreds of loyal Phoenix fans braved snow-slowed travel to cheer on the UW-Green Bay women Friday (Dec. 23), as they handily defeated Wisconsin 65-49. Holiday cheer was abundant during the trip, as you can see from our fun game-day photo gallery.