Northern Exposure: North Dakota State Thrives in All Elements


(In conjunction with D1Softball’s Top 50 Programs of the last decade project, staff writer Rhiannon Potkey will be providing an inside glimpse at a few of the programs and what’s helped make them successful. From unique traditions to milestone moments to program-changing players, all different angles will be explored)

Darren Mueller is well aware that North Dakota isn’t exactly a softball hotbed. Mueller can’t sell recruits on warm weather or the ability to play outside year-round. 

But the North Dakota State head coach is fairly confident that players will fall in love with the environment if they just give NDSU a chance.

“It’s really just about getting them to agree to a visit. Once we get them on campus, we rarely lose a recruit,” said Mueller, in his 20th season leading the program. “There are a lot of great things about this university and they usually buy into the mission and vision of things once they see it.”

Mueller has cast a wide recruiting net that stretches beyond just the Midwest. NDSU’s rosters have been filled with players from California, Texas, Washington, Nevada and Florida. 

He’s molded the Bison into one of the top mid-major programs in the country since transitioning to the Division I level in 2005. The former Division II national champions have reached 10 of the last 11 NCAA tournaments, and won seven of the last eight Summit League regular-season titles.


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