In the Iowa Conference Softball Preseason Coaches’ Poll released recently, 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.
   Head Coach Renae Hartl, who begins her 17th season at the helm, returns 12 letter winners from last year’s team that posted a record of 41-5 that included a 15-1 mark in the Iowa Conference. Hartl, who ranks 13th among active Division III head coaches for career win percentage (.750), has posted a career record of 514-171.
   Hartl’s teams have captured Iowa Conference championships in 2007, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016 and 2017. The Norse has made 10 NCAA III National Tournament appearances in the last 11 years. She has coached 77 all-conference, six conference MVP’s, 69 NFCA Midwest Region selections, and 20 All-Americans. Her teams have finished fifth at the NCAA III National championships in 2010, 2012 and 2013 and seventh in 2011.
   Recently, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) released the 2018 preseason NCAA III National Top-25 Poll, and Luther is ranked No. 9. Luther has now been ranked in the top-25 for 54 consecutive weeks and 114 of 117 weeks since March 4, 2009.
   The Norse will began the regular season schedule Saturday, Feb. 24, at the Rochester Regional Stadium and Bubble, located on the campus of Rochester Community and Technical College (MN). Luther played UW-Stout and Carroll College.