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Spotlight Feature on Former Athlete: Steven Feehan Baseball 1997-2000

Feehan typified CWS Cajuns of 2000

 

 

By Bruce Brown

 

Written for Athletic Network

 

 

So, you’re standing on third base against Clemson in your third game of the College World Series.

 

You and your teammates have already boldly gone where no Ragin’ Cajun baseball team has gone before, and have a loss to Stanford and a win over San Jose State to show for it.

 

Now, you’re standing on third, and assistant coach Wade Simoneaux leans in and asks you the question you’ve been waiting your whole life to hear – “Do you think you can get home plate?”

 

UL outfielder Steven Feehan’s response was a quick, “Absolutely,” and the resulting memory will last a lifetime.

 

Feehan stole home that day in 2000, the signature play in a thrilling 5-4 victory over Clemson that let the world know that coach Tony Robichaux’s team was not content just to show up.

 

The 2000 Cajuns then lost again to Stanford, finishing 2-2 at the CWS and serving notice that they earned the right to compete with the best. Stealing home showed they had no fear of the moment.

 

We kept ourselves grounded,” Feehan said. “It was uncharted territory for us, but Coach Rob let us enjoy the moment. ESPN wanted to present an up-close option of coverage, to show us going through a lot of different things while we were there, and Rob gave us that choice.

 

We had a lot of personalities on that team, and that attention showed those personalities. We also felt it provided good exposure for the University. I think it helped us to stay focused.”

 

Focus was going to be valuable playing on college baseball’s biggest stage in front of 15,000 fans.

 

We felt we were one of the top teams in the country,” Feehan said, reflecting the confidence gained from shocking South Carolina in the NCAA Super Regional to advance. “There was no way we felt we didn’t belong.

 

That helped with our mindset. We were going to play our style. We hit 83 home runs, but we were also going to steal and bunt people over.”

 

A 6-4 loss to Stanford settled the Cajuns’ nerves, they relaxed to beat SJSU 6-3, and then came Clemson.

 

We knew it would be a dogfight,” Feehan said. “If it was close, we thought we would play like we had all season. So, when Coach Wade asked me about stealing home, I wasn’t shocked by anything we would do.

 

The first couple of steps, I said, ‘I got this,’ but then it looked like he (the pitcher) was further along than I thought. Then I just remember the joy and excitement of scoring the run. Looking at the film, I noticed I slid feet-first instead of head first, and that was something I’d never done before going home. It allowed me to get up and celebrate faster.

 

Also, they showed the replay on the screen, and they showed my girlfriend – now wife, Kelly Menard Feehan – cheering in the stands.”

 

It was a golden moment, helped by the fact that Feehan later laid down a perfect bunt to produce a 4-4 tie, and that teammate Rick Haydel came around to score on the play to produce a wild 5-4 win.

 

It’s the pinnacle of college baseball to be there,” Feehan said. “It’s every kid’s dream, and to think those kids are watching you and you’ve given them something to pursue is special. It’s a place of dreams.”

 

The 2000 Cajuns finished 49-20 – including 30-3 at home at Tigue Moore Field – and built their campaign on the shoulders of the1999 squad, which went 42-22 and lost at Rice in the Super Regionals after winning the opener in the best-of-3 matchup.

 

The Rice experience helped tremendously,” Feehan said. “We had swept the Houston regional and had a good team with good starting pitching. Then we won the first game (12-8) and we were pumped up. All we had too do was win one of two. To be right there and not get it done left a bitter taste in our mouths.

 

Going into the 2000 season, we knew we would be good. We had an older ball club. We knew who we were and what our roles were. We weren’t ranked, and that was a slap in the face. We played with a chip on our shoulder; that’s what gave us that aggressive approach.

 

I think we started 29-2. That established our character. Then we had a slump that brought us back to reality. We held each other accountable, and that’s what prepared us for the Regional and Super Regional. We knew how to respond to adversity.”

 

UL swept McNeese (11-5), East Carolina (5-3) and ECU again (8-5) to earn the date at South Carolina. They rebounded from a 6-3 loss with 7-1 and 3-2 wins to reach the CWS for the first time.

 

We lost the first game, so that sort of twisted it around from the previous year,” Feehan said. “Coach Rob played mind games with the players. For the second game, we showed up 30 minutes before, put on our cleats and played. We were more relaxed. So, of course, we did it for the third game, too.”

 

Feehan started all 69 games that season (setting a school record with teammate Rick Haydel), occupying the leadoff spot in 58 of those contests. He hit .309 with 81 hits in 262 at-bats, scored 65 runs, had 20 doubles, 7 home runs, 34 RBI and had 126 total bases.

 

The Holy Cross-New Orleans product also had 25 multi-hit games and 9 multi-RBI games.

 

When he finished his Cajun career, Feehan owned school records for games (236), at-bats (809), runs (201), hits (250) and hit-by-pitch (30). He had 356 total bases, 57 stolen bases, 155 walks and 51 doubles and grew into the kind of player who could hit three doubles in a game (UALR, 1999), get three steals (Lamar, 1998) or lead off a game with a home run (South Alabama, 2000).

 

I grew up playing everything (football, basketball, baseball, track, soccer), but in baseball it was always centerfield,” Feehan said. “USL was almost my only choice. I didn’t want to go the JC route.

 

The weekend I visited, (the Cajuns) got beat bad, and I told myself I could play here. They were about a .500 team (25-33) the year before I got here. I probably struck out too much as a leadoff hitter, but I was a good bunter, could hit in the gaps and every now and then hit a home run. I did what the coaches needed me to do.”

 

The Cajuns finished 43-18, 39-22, 42-22 and 49-20 during Feehan’s career, still a source of pride nearly 15 years after his final game.

 

The thing that stands out to me is where the program was at the time,” he said. “They had had some good years under Mike Boulanger, and then the change to Coach Rob. It was great to be part of re-establishing the program to where it could be. To get better and better was the goal each year.

 

And, it was good to see the crowds grow as the season went, getting close to 3,000 a game. We took pride in the program starting to come back. It was fulfilling.”

 

Time, life and family (three active boys – 8, 6 and 3) prevent constant attention, but Feehan was impressed with the 2014 Cajuns who finished 58-10, were No.1 in the nation and fell one Super Regional game short of a second CWS berth.

 

I think this team is probably better,” he said. “They’re more complete, with both right-handed and left-handed batting. We were mostly right-handers in the lineup, not as much versatility.

 

Plus, they have a lot of talent coming off the bench. We weren’t that deep. We had 9 starters and 2-3 role players. They have a few more parts they can sub in and out. This team could have 2-3 different lineups, depending upon the opponent.”

 

Like many who married local girls, Feehan has remained local since his playing days. He and many ex-teammates have a tailgating spot at Cajun football games and have enjoyed baseball alumni weekends.

 

A 6-year member of the Lafayette Fire Department, Feehan has a new cause to champion.

 

I absolutely love it,” said Feehan, who thrives in the fitness-oriented department setting. “It’s great to serve in a time of need, to be a public servant. You never know what’s going to happen next. It could be a medical emergency, an auto accident, a house fire. Generally, if people don’t know who to call, they call the fire department.

 

It’s an exciting career.”

 

Spoken like a man who once stole home against Clemson in the CWS. Steven Feehan should know all about excitement.


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Steven as Cajun’s lead-off hitter in 2000.


Steven & Kelly Feehan,sons,Joel,Jude,Eli at 2012 Baseball Alumni Crawfish Boil.

Click here for the March 24, 2012 Baseball Alumni Crawfish Boil photo gallery.

Click here for a photo of Steven and his 2000 teammates. 

Click here for the photo gallery of the 2010 reunion of the 2000 Baseball Team.

Click on Photo Gallery, Baseball, then the years 1997-2000 to view photos of Steven and his teammates.  

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Click here for the chronological listings of the Spotlight on Former Athletes.