Credit the 2013 Husker softball team with generating statewide buzz during its successful season and exhilarating postseason run.
Eleven years had passed since the team last made a trip to the Women's College World Series.
That almost seems like a different geological epoch.
Think about it. Facebook and Twitter didn't exist the last time the Husker softball team made it that far in postseason play.
The development of social media and the surge in the number of portable electronic devices made it easy for fans to jump aboard the bandwagon this year. When the Husker softball team made it to the national stage, people all over the world could follow in real time.
The Husker team was fun to watch.
The team competed with intensity and a spirit of joy, embodied by third baseman Gabby Banda's infectious smile and designated player Courtney Breault whooping it up with dance moves and whatnot on the sidelines and dugout.
Going into the WCWS, the team had won 11 of its games in the final at bat. In six of those games, the team was trailing.
The team motto -- heart and hustle -- might be cliché, but not when the words come alive on the field of play.
Coach Rhonda Revelle and team members said seniors were the leaders during its 45-16 season, but it was two freshmen who played a key role. Middle infielders Alicia Armstrong and Hailey Decker helped put the Huskers in the WCWS with a national-leading and school-record 48 double plays.
“It's amazing how they can get to balls and make those quick throws,” Nebraska pitcher Tatum Edwards said. “I try my best to give them ground balls and say, ‘Hey, here, play!’ I want to see it, and I want to watch. Sometimes I catch myself being a little bit of a fan.”
If the duo turned Edwards into a fan, they put the actual fans over the top. Fittingly, it was a double play that Nebraska used to finish off the Oregon Ducks in the Super Regional.
The stellar season ended with a loss, but what a loss it was -- a five-hour, 20-minute, 15 inning epic that people will remember for a long time and that left players and fans satisfied that the team went down fighting.
The dramatic finish left Husker fans eager for next season. Revelle feels the same way.
“I just really feel the motivation, the drive and the talent is there to not only put them on the national stage right now, but to continue to grow that,” Revelle said, “and the motivation to be better and to return here and take it farther.”
There's no doubt that the Husker softball fan base is bigger now than it was a few months ago. It was a season worth celebrating.