Luther College seniors Kelsey Weindruch (Bettendorf, Iowa/Pleasant Valley), Elisa Smith (Shoreview, Minn./Mounds View), Morgan Franklin (Mitchellville, Iowa/Southeast Polk) and Shari Huber (Eldridge, Iowa/North Scott) wrapped-up a remarkable four-year run at the NCAA III Softball Championships.
Entering the final seven days of the Iowa Conference regular season schedule, Luther lost four of six games, dropped out of the NFCA Division III national poll for the first time in 62 consecutive weeks, and entered the six-team conference tournament as the No. 3 seed.
The Norse knew the best opportunity they had to make a fourth consecutive trip to National Tournament Regional play, was to win the conference tournament title and earn the league’s automatic berth.
Led by these four seniors, The Norse responded with seven consecutive wins, that not only secured the conference tournament title, but also the Whitewater Regional championship, thus earning a fourth consecutive trip to the eight-team National Softball Championships.
The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire hosted the National Softball Championships at Gelein Field in Carson Park, the same site the Norse had made their initial appearance of this four-year streak in 2010.
At the national championships, the Norse ran their string of consecutive victories to eight with an 8-1 victory over Anderson University (IN) in the opening round. Unfortunately, a 9-1 loss to SUNY Cortland and a 4-1 loss to Texas-Tyler ended Luther’s season. The Norse finished the year with an overall record of 33-11.
Smith, Franklin and Huber played in all four national tournaments, while Weindruch joined the Norse as a sophomore in 2011, after transferring from Muscatine Community College. Smith, Franklin and Huber have the distinction of being the only players in Luther softball history to play in four National Softball Championships to-date. Weindruch joins Paige Comentino '12, Abby Christian '12, Mallory Broderick '12, Kelsey Kittleson '12 and Lauran Snyder '12 as the only Norse to play in three National Championships. Prior to this current streak, Luther advanced to the National Softball Championships in 1985, 1990 and 1991, under the direction of Hall of Fame Coach Betty Hoff.
Renae Hartl, who just completed her 12th season, has led the Norse to a record of 363-147, that includes a mark of 157-33 the last four years.