College Sports

Saints hire winner in Rick Noren

As softball coach at Pacific Lutheran University, Rick Noren knew how to beat Saint Martin's.

Now, he’ll have to figure out how to turn Saint Martin’s into a winner.

Noren, who went 11-3-1 against Saint Martin’s in 13 seasons as head coach at PLU, is the new Saints coach.

“With Rick we get a coach who is an excellent teacher and has a passion for the game of softball,” said Bob Grisham, Saint Martin’s athletic director. “He also brings an impressive list of credentials.”

From 1995 to 2008, Noren won eight conference championships at PLU and went 404-145-1.

Noren replaces Tiffany Qunell, who unexpectedly resigned in late October after four seasons, finishing 57-105. She never gave Grisham an explanation why she resigned.

Noren was hired just three weeks before practice begins on Jan. 10.

Since 2008, Noren, a 1983 Tumwater High School graduate, has been the athletic director at Tacoma’s Life Christian Academy.

“I am excited to get back into collegiate coaching and the opportunity at Saint Martin’s was a great fit,” Noren said.

Under Noren, PLU won three regional championships and advanced to nationals seven times. Noren was named the Northwest Conference coach of year four times and the regional coach of the year in 2002 when PLU went 36-2.

Noren also coached at Green River Community College for three years in the early 1990s, finishing with a 50-52 record, and spent time as an assistant coach at the University of Washington.

Noren takes over a team with 14 players on the roster, eight returning from a team that finished 20-35. Joslyn Eugenio, a sophomore pitcher/first baseman from Hawaii, returns after being named the Great Northwest Athletic Conference freshman of the year last season.

“As we move the softball program forward, it will be critical for our success to not only bring in talented athletes, but students that are interested in achieving greatness in the classroom,” Noren said.

It’s going to be a challenge for Noren to turn the SMU program around. Noren never had a losing record at PLU, where he replaced Ralph Weekly after Weekly joined the U.S. Olympic program. Saint Martin’s has never had a winning season.

“It is a strong group of returning players and I look forward to helping them achieve their goals as collegiate athletes,” Noren said.

The Saints begin their 55-game schedule Feb. 10 at a tournament in Las Vegas.