The Luther College softball team has been picked to repeat as Iowa Conference champions. The Norse received 64 points in the league's preseason coaches' poll.
Luther enters the year ranked No. 8 on the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) 2017 preseason NCAA III National Top-25 Poll. Since 2009, Luther has been ranked in the NFCA Top-25 100 of the past 103 weeks.
Head Coach Renae Hartl, who begins her 16th season at the helm, returns 13 letter winners from last year's team that posted a record of 40-5 that included an 11-1 mark in the Iowa Conference. The Norse won the regular season and conference tournament. Hartl, who ranks 15th among active Division III head coaches for career win percentage (.740), has posted a career record of 473-166.
Hartl’s teams have captured Iowa Conference championships in 2007, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2016. The have made nine NCAA III National Tournament appearances in the last 10 years. She has coached 70 all-conference, five conference MVP's, 63 NFCA Midwest Region selections, and 17 All-Americans. Her teams have finished fifth at the NCAA III National championships in 2010, 2012 and 2013 and seventh in 2011.
The Norse will begin the regular season schedule Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Rochester Regional Stadium and Bubble, located on the campus of Rochester Community and Technical College (MN). Luther will play UW-Stout at 12:00 p.m. and Bethel University (MN) at 2:00 p.m.