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.