For the Mount Vernon Nazarene College womenís fastpitch softball team, the 1999 season will be remembered as the year of the injuries.
Three MVNC starters saw their seasons come to an early end due to various injuries, yet the team still proved to be very competitive as evidenced by the fact that the Lady Cougars just missed out on the sixth and final spot in the American Mideast Conference Tournament.
The season began in Orlando, Florida, as the team took part in the Orlando Rebel Games. After dropping their first two games of the season, the Lady Cougars kicked things into gear as they won five of their next six games to improve their record to 5-3.
After such a promising start, MVNC had its high hopes dashed as lead-off hitter and starting second baseman Jody Eichelberger broke her hand while batting to begin the teamís ninth game of the season. The injury would sideline Eichelberger for the rest of the year and with it a .308 batting average and .960 fielding percentage.
The Lady Cougars dropped their remaining four games in Florida as the team returned to Ohio with a 5-7 record. Upon its arrival back north, MVNC split its first three doubleheaders to move its record to 8-10.
After sweeping an AMC doubleheader against Notre Dame College, the Lady Cougars dropped four of their next five games as their record slipped to 11-14. Then, MVNC won three straight games (including the teamís first-ever doubleheader sweep at the University of Rio Grande) to even its record at 14-14.
However, the team went on a season-high five-game losing skid as its record fell to 14-19. During this time, Natalie Wallace, who started at six different positions for the Lady Cougars during the season and batted .348, went down with a knee injury and was finished for the season.
Starting shortstop Shelly Claxon, who batted .319 and was an Honorable Mention All-AMC pick, also missed several games with a shoulder injury that hampered her even in the games that she did play.
After snapping the losing streak with a win at Saint Vincent (PA) College, MVNC took part in the 1999 National Christian College Athletic Association East Region Tournament. The Lady Cougars lost both of their games in extra innings by one run.
The team picked up its final victory of the season with a 3-2 win over seven-time defending conference champion Shawnee State University in the first game of a twinbill, and the loss kept the Lady Bears from winning the 1999 conference title.
For the season, MVNC suffered 10 one-run losses with two of them coming in extra innings. The Lady Cougars finished seventh in the AMC with a respectable 10-12 conference mark that included wins over three of the six teams that made the conference tournament.
Individually, freshman Amanda Schumm had an outstanding season. The designated hitter/pitcher led the team in nearly every offensive category with a .408 batting average, 49 hits, nine doubles, two triples, five home runs, 29 runs batted in, and 29 runs scored. Schumm also posted a 6-10 record on the mound with a fine 1.61 earned run average and 67 strikeouts. She was an AMC First Team selection and an Honorable Mention NCCAA All-American.
Senior Lori Sours wrapped up her career by being named to the AMC Second Team. Sours, who started the season at first base but played second and third due to the injuries, batted .225 with 10 RBI and 10 runs scored. She finished her career ranked second on the Lady Cougarsí all-time list in doubles with 34.
Senior Corri Tillett batted .212 in her final season and led the team with 15 sacrifice hits and 98 assists as she played both third base and shortstop.
Sophomore pitcher Tara Hines posted a 9-12 record with a 2.44 ERA. In 137 2/3 innings of work, Hines struck out a team-high 72 batters as she was named to the NCCAA East Region Team.
Sophomore catcher Angie Svagerko played in all 40 games for the team and compiled a .278 batting average with a team-high three triples and three stolen bases. She also had 10 RBI and 14 runs scored.
Junior outfielder Mandi Halley, sophomore outfielder Amy Leach, and freshman first baseman Stephanie Keller each played in 37 games for the team. Halley batted .235, Leach hit .135, and Keller had a .213 batting average.