Dan Nessler enters his third season as the Head Softball Coach in 2018-19. During Nessler's first two seasons, the Vikings have qualified for the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) postseason tournament twice. Prior to Nessler’s arrival, the Vikings last advanced to postseason play in 2013.
In 2018, the Vikings continued to show improvement with Nessler in charge. The Vikings finished with an overall record of 17-19 and an impressive UMAC record of 10-6. The Vikings added two more wins to their overall total despite playing significantly less games due to weather. The Vikings finished the postseason with a 2-2 record with wins over UW-Superior and Crown. Nessler coached two UMAC First Team All-Conference players and one Honorable Mention as well as one member of the All-Defensive Team. Nessler also recruited the UMAC Rookie of the Year in Sarah Presler who competed in her first year with the Vikings. The Vikings also set the single season school record for most stolen bases.
In 2017, Nessler’s first season at the helm, the Vikings more than doubled their win total from the previous year. The Vikings finished with an overall record of 15-24 and UMAC record of 8-8. In postseason play, the Vikings won their opening round game against UW-Superior before being eliminated from the tournament. The Vikings had one UMAC First Team All-Conference player, one Honorable Mention, and one All-Defensive player.
In two seasons, the Vikings have had three First Team All-Conference players, two Honorable Mention, and two All-Defensive players.
The Vikings have not only improved on the softball field, but in the classroom as well. In two seasons, the Vikings have had a total of 14 players receive Academic All-Conference honors. In 2018, the Vikings boasted 10 recipients with a team grade point average of 3.55.
Nessler comes to the Vikings with a heralded resume as a fastpitch player and coach over the past 30-plus years. Most recently, in the fall of 2017, Nessler was inducted into the Minnesota State-Mankato hall of fame. In 2016, Nessler was inducted into the 2016 Minnesota Softball hall of fame. He was also a 2009 inductee in the International Softball Congress (ISC) hall of fame. Nessler has played on three ISC World Championship teams with Penn Corp., while being named to the All-World Tournament team four times. Nessler also played in four United States Olympic Festivals. Locally, the St. James, Minn., native was a mainstay with Happy Chef fastpitch softball teams for 14 years in the 1980s and 90s.
Nessler has led both Mankato Peppers and Mints girls teams for many seasons. His 2013 and 2015 ASA 18U Boys teams won the national championships, and he’s has been an assistant coach for the 2015 and ’16 ASA/USA men’s 19U softball teams that have played internationally.
“I am extremely excited to be appointed the Bethany softball coach, and I am convinced with the rich talent pool in the Mankato area and southern Minnesota that we can be successful not only in the UMAC, but also on a regional level in the coming years,” Nessler said. “I'm excited to visit with the current players and begin recruiting the newest Bethany Vikings on our way to renewing BLC softball as a respected, determined, talented and well-coached opponent that plays the game the right way every time we step on the field.”
“Dan Nessler’s name has been associated with an exceptionally high quality of softball for many years on both a local and national level. He brings not only a vast knowledge of softball to our program, but his passion for the game is even more engaging,” said Don Westphal, Bethany’s Director of Athletics. “With his coaching track record and his recruiting connections, I have no doubt that our Viking softball teams will soon be vying for UMAC championships and NCAA post-season berths.”