Coaching Staff

Bryan Nikkel

Head Coach

  • 2007 graduate of Southwest Minnesota State University
  • The 2020 campaign will be Coach Nikkel's sixth year as skipper of the Norse program
  • During the 2019 campaign, Luther tallied a record of 23-20, giving Coach Nikkel and four-year mark of 130-90
  • His players have earned a combined 28 all-conference honors including two named Iowa Conference Pitcher of the Year in 2016 and 2018; nine have been named all-region
  • In 2016, he led the Norse to a record of 34-14, the Iowa Conference Tournament championship and a trip to the NCAA III National Baseball Tournament Central Regional
  • In 2016, The Norse set single season school records for wins (34), hits (485), doubles (116) and in 2017 stolen bases (74)
  • In 2016, senior catcher Mitch Knippenberg was named a third team ABCA/Rawlings All-American, only the second Luther player in school history to earn this honor
  • Coach Nikkel Took over the Norse baseball program after serving as the top assistant and recruiting coordinator at Augustana College, Sioux Falls, S.D for four years
  • During this stretch Augustana produced four 30-plus win seasons; made two NCAA II National Tournament appearances; made four NSIC Tournament appearances capturing the tournament championship in 2014
  • During his coaching career he has recruited and coached nine players who have gone on to play professionally
  • Four-year letter winner as a catcher at SMSU and twice served as team captain
  • Following his playing days he was an assistant coach at Southwest Minnesota State for three years (2007-2010)
  • He has also served as Head Coach for the Marshall, Minn., American Legion baseball team for two years (2009-2011) and the Grand Rapids, Minn., VFW baseball team for three years (2004-2007)

Tyler Vaughn

Pitching Coach

  • 2017 graduate of Augustana University in Sioux Falls, S.D.
  • Masters degree from Southwest Minnesota State University
  • The 2020 campaign will be coach Vaughn's first year as an assistant coach for the Norse program
  • Spent the previous two seasons as a graduate assistant and pitching coach for Southwest Minnesota State University
  • He has also served as an assistant coach for the Marshall, Minn., American Legion and Jr. Legion baseball teams for two years (2018-2019), and as the head coach for Sioux Falls West, Jr. Legion baseball team for two years (2016-2017)
  • In 2018, the SMSU pitching staff recorded its lowest ERA since 2014 and its second lowest team ERA since the 2010 season. Despite playing only 40 games, SMSU pitchers recorded 293 strikeouts--its highest total in three seasons--and second highest total in program history
  • During his collegiate career he had a four-year pitching career at Iowa Central Community College and Augustana University. Vaughn recorded six victories in two seasons at ICCC, before transferring to Augustana. During his senior season in 2017, Vaughn finished 6-1 with a 2.31 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings

Blaine Barthel

Director of Player Development

  • 2013 graduate of University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Returns to the Norse coaching staff after working at Morehead State University, Kentucky during 2019 season
  • Two-year letter winner while at UMD
  • Prior to attending UMD he attended Itasca Community College where he was a two-year letter winner
  • For the past two years he was the Southwest Minnesota State University pitching coach and recruiting coordinator

Tanner Neale

Assistant Coach

  • 2015 graduate of Southwest Minnesota State University with a bachelor’s degree in sports management
  • Neale returns to Luther after spending three years as an Assistant Coach with Upper Iowa University
  • As a catcher at Southwest Minnesota State, he was voted Best Defensive Player for the Mustangs (2013, 2014, 2015) becoming the second player in school history to win the award three consecutive seasons.
  • His .997 career fielding percentage ranks first in school history, committing two errors during his four year career.
  • He was voted the Most Inspirational Player (2014, 2015)

Brady Uekert

Team Manager

    • Senior at Luther College
    • 2016 graduate of DC Everest High School, Weston, Wis.

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