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NFCA Feature Team Of The Week: The 1999 Simon Fraser University Clan

Simon Fraser University Clan: 1999 NAIA Champions.

Left to right: Christine Taylor, Michelle Berry, Kristi Jamieson, Julie Bodenbender, Lindsay Brooks, Tania Janssen, Val Turner, Sarah Simpson.

(back) Angela Lichty, Tina Paptolis, Leanne Pettie, Jennifer Jones, Sasha Olsen, Kathy Iggulden, Shannon Cartier

1999 was a year of unprecedented success. A year in which Simon Fraser University was crowned National Champions of the 240-team National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

The journey began in January with five practices a week, including three at 7 a.m.. The Clan's first competition came in early February where, ironically, they matched up in the first game of a Southern California tournament with their archrivals, Western Washington, the same Western Washington team that had defeated the Clan in the NAIA National finals in 1998. Perhaps this was an omen for the Clan, which entered the year with one goal in mind--to win one more game in 1999 and win the National Championship.

Against Western, the Clan avenged its loss in the national final in a convincing manner, defeating its cross border neighbor 10-0 in five innings, behind a no-hitter by Kathy Iggulden. The Clan went on to tie for first place in this rain-shortened tournament, before returning to the Northwest.

March bought a return to a prestigious 16-team Central Washington tournament, of which Simon Fraser was entering as defending champions. When all was said and done the Clan had defended its title.

April means league play in University Softball and a new challenge for the Clan. 1999 was the Clan’s first year competing in a combined NAIA and NCAA D-II conference (Pac-West),which includied teams from Washington, Oregon and Northern California. Simon Fraser continued on its road of success, leading the league with a 17-3 record, good for top spot.Again irony shone its light, as the number two team in the conference was Humboldt State University from Arcata, California which went on to be crowned the NCAA D-II World Series Champs. This marked the first time two National Champions have come from the same Conference.

Next up was regional playoffs, which meant a trip down to Eastern Oregon and matchups with the top NAIA schools in the Northwest. The Regionals were merely a formality for the Clan. Having been ranked No. 2 in the NAIA for most of the year, the Clan would receive an automatic birth to nationals if they were to lose in the regionals. This would not be the case though, as the Clan won all three of its games and was crowned NAIA Pacific Northwest Regional Champions for the second consecutive year. Next up: West Palm Beach, Florida and NAIA Nationals.

On May 28th at 10:25 p.m. in Jupite,r Florida, Simon Fraser University secured the last out in the seventh inning to earn its first-ever NAIA National Championship in Softball.

The Clan entered the sixteen team NAIA National Tournament as the number one seed after being ranked second in the national pollp for most of the year. The teams competing represented nine Regional winners of the 234 NAIA teams located throughout North America as well as seven wild cards awarded to the remaining top-ranked teams.

The tournament started with the Clan matched up against Lindenwood University of Missouri, which had been ranked sixth in National Polls throughout the year. Lindenwood was no match for the powerful Clan offense however, as Simon Fraser rolled to a 14-2 victory on the strength of 18 hits.

Next up was St. Edward's University of Texas and a defensive battle which required the Clan to come back from a fourth inning, 1-0 deficit to eventually win 4-1. This win advanced the Clan to a match up with Pacific Northwest Rival Eastern Oregon University, which the Clan had played three times previously, winning the series two games to one, all one-run games. This was not to be the case this time, as the Clan's offense erupted for 8 first inning runs on their way to a 16-1 rout.

Now on to the semifinals and a matchup with the tournament's No. 2 seed from Oklahoma City University. With the top two teams facing off, the crowd was treated to one of the best games of the tournament. The Clan scored first with a single run in the bottom of the first inning. That run stood up until the fourth inning, when Oklahoma City scored two of its own to take the lead. SFU then answered back with one in the bottom of the fourth to tie the score at two apiece. The scored remained tied until the Clan, in dramatic fashion, scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning, advancing them to the National Championship Final.

In 1998 the Clan lost in the final to Western Washington, which they had beaten four of six times throughout the year and was determined not to be denied this year. Their championship opponent was again Oklahoma City, which defeated Spring Hill from Alabama to earn another shot at the SFU.

In the final game the Clan jumped out to an early lead, with three runs in the first inning, followed by single runs in the second and third innings as well as two more in the fourth. Oklahoma City could only answer with one run in the third. OCU, trailing 7-1 after four, scored two runs in the fifth to narrow the margin to 7-3, but was unable to muster any more offense in the game as the Clan coasted to its first ever NAIA National Championship victory with a 7-3 win. Leading the way was Tournament MVP Kathy Iggulden, who picked up 12 strikeouts in the final game. Along with Iggulden, both Sasha Olson and Lindsay Brooks were also named to the All-Tournament Team. Olson lead the Championship with a .500 batting average, going 8-for-16 and scoring nine runs.

1999 will long be remembered for this group of athletes and coaches. Along with the National Title numerous records were set including: most wins (40), fewest losses (7), most Home runs (18), most runs (327), most hits (447) and most doubles (83).