MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – On Friday, the University of Minnesota softball team opens the NCAA Tournament in Washington against Texas.

The journey to the post-season has become the norm, and as WCCO’s Mike Max reports, there is more to achieve and there has been much that has been done.

The Gophers are battle-tested this spring. That’s what happens when you win three rain-delayed tournament games to capture the Big 10 Championship.

“I think it proved to them too that everything we’ve gone through has prepared them for when we have to play our best when it matters the most,” Gophers coach Jamie Trachsel said. “And that there’s nothing they can’t handle.”

The slogan “Bold North” has taken on a source of pride in Minnesota. But in NCAA softball circles, being from the north isn’t always a good thing when they select the teams.

It seems despite the numbers the Gophers have put up, and despite winning the Big-10, they still get short-changed when it comes to NCAA Tournament seedings. That can be a good thing.

“Some people overlook us but I think that gives us a little chip on our shoulder just because when you think north, you think we don’t get to play outside as much,” Gophers pitcher Sydney Smith said. “People overlook us for sure, but we can play with anybody and we can compete with anybody in the country.”

But at the end of the day, win or lose this weekend, it’s been quite a turnaround over the past few years to be a part of Gophers softball.

“I mean this year has been crazy but it’s awesome to be on this team and be a part of a program that can go and win back-to-back-to-back Big 10 Championshps,” Smith said. “I mean we’ve just been through pretty much everything this year and it’s just been fun to be a part of.”

“Not many people can say that they’ve helped a program change or been a part of something like this. It’s been an honor to be able to say that I was part of Minnesota for these four years,” Gophers infielder Danielle Parlich said.

Mike Max