Fifty outstanding softball players have been chosen for the 2018 Schutt Sports/NFCA Division III National Player of the Year watch list. Among those are three Luther softball players. This trio includes senior shortstop Anna Strien (Cedar Falls, Iowa/Waterloo Columbus), senior outfielder Ashley Burrows (Bondurant, Iowa/Bondurant-Farrar) and junior pitcher Samantha Bratland (Spring Grove, Minn.). All three are returning All-Americans. The list will be paired down throughout the season until just one player remains at the conclusion of the 2018 season.
Twenty-nine returning NFCA All-Americans top the list, including 11 first-team honorees, 11 second-team selections and seven from last year’s third team. The remaining 21 members of the group all earned first team NFCA All-Region recognition last season.
There are 24 seniors, 19 juniors and seven sophomores in the group.
Last year, Strien batted .531 and led the NCAA III with 66 RBI. She was a first-team NFCA All-American at shortstop. She was also named the Iowa Conference Player of the Year and was named all-Midwest Region for a second time. Strien enters her final campaign with a career batting average of .432 and 125 RBI, which ranks second and eighth respectively on Luther's all-time lists.
Burrows batted .421 with 20 RBI a year ago. She was a second-team NFCA All-American outfielder that was part of a defensive outfield that did not commit an error during the 2017 campaign. She was also named all-Midwest Region for a second time and all-Iowa Conference for a third time. During her three years in a Norse uniform she has posted a career batting average of .426, that ranks third on Luther's all-time list and a fielding percentage of .969.
Bratland returns to the circle where she has posted a career record of 42-6 with an ERA of 1.37 for her career. Her win total ranks sixth on Luther's all-time list while her ERA ranks seventh. She has also been credited with 326 strikeouts that ranks sixth all-time. She was named a third-team NFCA All-American last year. She was also named first-team all-Iowa Conference and all-Midwest Region for a second consecutive year.
The Schutt Sports/NFCA Division III Player of the Year list is compiled annually by the NFCA’s Division III All-America committee. The list will subsequently be cut to 25, 10 and as the season progresses, before the winner is chosen following the completion of the NCAA III Championship.
The list will be adjusted along the way to assure the best players are being considered, with the eventual winner coming from the group of 10 finalists.