Luther's Anna Strien adds big numbers to potent Norse offense

Luther looks for second straight IIAC tournament title

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DECORAH — Luther’s Anna Strien isn’t concerned with personal statistics.

She says she doesn’t keep up on her own, but they are easy to find if you view the list of conference and NCAA Division III leaders.

Strien is smack in the middle of a potent Luther lineup that will attempt to win its second straight Iowa Conference softball tournament title this weekend at Betty A. Hoff Field in Decorah. The Norse have hosted the tournament the last three seasons, winning five of the last seven.

The junior shortstop ranks among the top-11 in five offensive categories, including batting average, on-base percentage, hits, RBIs and total bases. Her 61 hits and 62 RBIs lead the IIAC, while sitting second nationally in RBIs and on-base percentage (.632).

Strien is happier with the team’s success.

“Never focus on the individual stuff,” said Strien, a former Waterloo Columbus prep. “As a team, putting in the work in the offseason, in the summer, our 6 a.m. morning lifts.

“All of that culminates into what we’re producing now. It’s what really matters and it’s good to see the production that comes from that hard work.”

Strien has battered opposing pitchers for 14 doubles and 103 total bases. Her .554 batting average is third in D-III. The production from a three-year starter was expected by Luther Coach Renae Hartl.

“She’s done really well,” Hartl said. “The biggest jump for her over the last couple seasons has been where we placed her in the batting order.

“She would attest that if she was a No. 3 batter it would be different from a No. 5, 6 or 7.”

Strien’s numbers have always been good, but the increase can be attributed in part to improved patience and pitch selection.

“I know when I was younger in my career here at Luther I tended to go after things I probably shouldn’t go after,” Strien said. “Just honing in on finding my pitch and waiting and prolonging the at-bat for that perfect pitch. Hopefully, it has been better as the year has gone by.”

Strien is just a piece of the big offensive puzzle that has led to a .375 team batting average. The Norse led the IIAC in runs (302), hits (408) and home runs (33). Hartl said the balanced lineup seems to have a different person step to the forefront each game.

“It’s pretty much a team effort,” Hartl said. “We have games where we have certain players that are zoned in at the plate.”

Top-seeded Luther (15-1 IIAC) and No. 2 seed Central (13-3) receive first-round byes. The Norse will face the winner between No. 4 Wartburg (9-7) and fifth-seeded Buena Vista (8-8). Third-seeded Coe (11-5) and No. 6 Loras (6-8) are in the other first-round game with the winner playing Central.

“We are very excited to have some great Division III softball,” Hartl said. “There are five (other) very good softball teams.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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