GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – The Green Bay Blue Ribbons kicked off the 2023 season with a fan fest and scrimmage, and for the players who suited up, it was a breath of fresh air.

The Wisconsin State League team is comprised of primarily local athletes competing on college teams or completing their high school careers. In a sport that is highly competitive, stressful, and mentally taxing, Blue Ribbons baseball provides an opportunity for players to develop and fall back in love with the sport.

Manager Anthony Sottile cultivates the mindset that his players can have fun and goof around, but when it’s game time, they are ready to play. “At the end of the day, we want to emphasize that the game is fun. That you’re here, it’s summer baseball. So obviously we want these guys to have a good time.”

“Obviously winning games is great, but a lot of these guys get to play free again. There’s really no one breathing down their necks. I love watching guys come out of their shell and play to their true potential,” said Liam Jones, a Preble alumni who plays for Crown College.

James Bornick echoed Jones. The Bay Port grad now plays for Marian University, where he said the spring baseball season can be stressful.

“Really all I want to do this summer is have fun. I don’t want to take things too seriously I don’t want to get in my head too much. So I really just like to let loose, have some fun with the guys, and just play baseball.” Bornick is coming off a record-setting season with the Blue Ribbons last year. Bornick set the new team record for home runs in a season.

Pitcher Eli Frank rejoins the Blue Ribbons after earning the 2022 team MVP award. Frank finished last summer on the Green Bay Rockers of the Northwoods League. He credits his time with the Blue Ribbons for increasing his exposure for that call-up.

“I probably wouldn’t have gotten the exposure that I got to have for the Northwoods if I didn’t get to play here. It definitely helped getting to see the stats that I put up here and then get to show them that hey, these Ribbons, they can play ball.”

The Green Bay Blue Ribbons’ first game of the season is on May 30 against the Sheboygan A’s. The full schedule can be found here.