Catcher Jo Suave played competitive softball on some of the most elite teams of her era for 25 years, 13 of those in USSSA ball. During that time, she hit nearly .500 with around 50 home runs.
It was with the legendary St. Charles Lassies that the right alley power hitter accomplished the most. Playing alongside future Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame inductees Helen Biddle and Mary Stark, Suave blossomed into a top tier softball player.
“Just being a part of such a wonderful, successful organization was exciting,” Suave said of the Lassies.
In 1979, Suave was named MVP of the St. Charles USSSA tournament, MVP of the St. Charles League, All-State and helped lead the Lassies to second place at the USSSA World. The team finished fourth at the 125-team USSSA World in 1980 with a 7-2 record. In 1981, with Suave coaching due to a serious leg injury, they went 6-0 to sweep the winner’s bracket at World, only to lose twice to the Virginia Belles and settle for National runner-up. Over the next six seasons, Suave and the Lassies qualified for World play four more times. Along the way, the Lassies won many league, State and Open Invitational Titles.
“We had a bus load of fans who traveled with us,” Suave said. At times, the team found themselves playing in front of as many as four and five thousand people.
After the 1987 season, Suave played Class B ball with Elgin’s Playmates. Through the 1990 season, the team ended each year competing in the USSSA Class B Divisional.
In 1991, Suave moved over to Milwaukee’s Hub South as a coach. A young A team, Hub South qualified for the USSSA Nationals each year and was runner-up in Dallas, Texas.
Suave continued to coach the Playmates through 1995 before hanging up her spikes.
Suave was not just athletically talented. She was tough. In one game in the early-80s, she broke the little finger on her right hand, but it was not until five games later that she finally realized it was fractured. She responded by taping the injured finger to her ring finger and getting right back behind the plate.
“Softball opened up everyone’s world to new people, new situations and friends,” Suave said. “And an inner feeling of satisfaction I’ve never gotten from anything [else].”
One memory Suave is particularly fond of is being named to the 1980 Women’s A World All-Tournament team with her pitcher, Deb Keller.
Suave is especially appreciative of Brenda Paulson and the USSSA organization, saying the Illinois USSSA was very instrumental in all of this.
The Illinois USSSA returns that admiration and welcomes Jo Suave into the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame.