Luther College's baseball and softball teams have new stadiums this year that are providing great game-day experiences for both spectators and players. The public is invited to a service of dedication for the stadiums and for Betty A. Hoff Field at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 29.
Both the Luther baseball and softball teams will play home games that day. The baseball team plays Nebraska Wesleyan University in a double-header beginning at noon, and the softball team plays Simpson College at 1 p.m. All games are open to the public at no charge for admission.
The dedication will include fanfares by the Luther Trumpet Ensemble, conducted by John Cord, assistant professor of music; an invocation and prayer of dedication by campus pastor Mike Blair; remarks by Luther College President Paula J. Carlson and ceremonial first pitches before each game.
"As a lifelong baseball and softball fan, I am thrilled that Luther College can now offer our students a best-in-the-league playing experience through these wonderful new stadiums," President Carlson said. “The new bleachers and standing areas also give spectators a better view—we'll never miss a play. I invite everyone to join us at our dedication and at Norse home games throughout the spring to cheer on our talented teams.”
Each stadium has bleacher seating for 171 and up to 88 chair-back seats that were once part of the Minneapolis Metrodome, including seating for people with disabilities. Both stadiums have standing areas with railings on the first and third base sides and next to the press boxes, which have improved radio and video capabilities. Netting in front of the stadium will provide safety for spectators while being easy to see through.
The softball field has been named for Betty Hoff in honor of her longtime service to Luther. Hoff, a 1960 Luther graduate, was a professor, coach and athletic trainer from 1961 to 2004. She was head softball coach from 1969 to 2001, with a career record of 544-343-1 and four Iowa Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women state championships. Hoff led the Norse to four consecutive Iowa Intercollegiate Athletics Conference titles (1985, ’86, ’87, ’88), eight consecutive National Collegiate Athletics Association III Regional appearances (1985-1992) and three national tournament appearances, finishing fourth in 1985 and 1990, and fifth in 1991.
In 1992, Hoff became the first Division III coach inducted into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame. She was Luther’s first Nena Amundson Distinguished Professor from 2001 to 2004, and was inducted into Luther's Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004.
“These two stadiums are now the best in the Iowa Conference for our fans and prospective student-athletes and their families to enjoy an afternoon of baseball and softball right on campus,” said Luther College Athletic Director Renae Hartl. “Our current student-athletes have such a special venue for practice everyday and to compete in on game day. For softball specifically, it is a personal and special honor to name this field after Coach Betty.”
In the 2015-16 academic year, 600 students participated in Luther varsity athletics. More than 75 student-athletes are involved with Luther's baseball and softball programs each year. The men have won 13 Iowa Conference titles, made five NCAA tournament appearances, and set 10 school records in 2016. Coach Bryan Nikkel, now in his third year at Luther, was named the 2016 NCAA Central Region Coach of the Year.
The women's team has 10 straight seasons with 30-plus wins, nine Iowa Conference championships, and 17 NCAA tournament appearances. Head Coach Renae Hartl, in her 16th season with the Norse and with a record of 473-166, has led the women to eight straight NCAA tournaments.
Contributions at all levels from more than 200 donors and businesses made the stadiums possible.
Contractors for the stadiums included Opus Design Build LLC, Haugerud Painting, Empire Fence and Netting, Croell Inc., Perry Novak Electric, Wicks Construction, Bruening Rock Products/Skyline Construction, Seating and Athletic Facility Enterprise, David Finholt Construction, See Electric, LaX Fabricating, Sodko Inc., Letterwerks and Sports Graphics.
A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,150, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website: http://www.luther.edu.