2018 Female Player: Jean Tripam

Jean Tripam

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Jean Tripam’s nearly lifelong love of softball came with more than a few sacrifices, including skipping out on a lot of family functions over the years. Thankfully, her family understood what softball has meant to her. When she asked her sisters if they ever resented her choosing the diamond over family events, her older sister’s response was, “Absolutely not. It’s who you are. You’re a softball player!”

Tripam began receiving notoriety as an outstanding outfielder for Richards High School in Oak Lawn, Illinois, earning All-Conference honors her four years on the varsity team. She went on to play at Illinois Benedictine College, where she received All-American honors.

In 1989, she met Steve Gill at one of her college games and was invited to play for Made to Order. She accepted and was a mainstay through 2007 for a perennially strong team. Tripam earned dozens of All-Tournament awards, three gold gloves and a batting title. She was a member of three Illinois State Championship teams, three National Championship teams (1989 Muncie, Indiana, 1999 Sheboygan, Wisconsin, 2004 Blaine, Minnesota). In 2005, Made to Order won the Class B World Championship at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.

Tripam joined O’Brien’s Painting/Double Vision in 2008 and played three seasons with that team. She earned All-Tournament honors each year (2008 Illinois Great Lakes, 2009 Ohio Great Lakes, 2010 Illinois D State Tournament).

I’ve played this game with emotion and love and I’ve always tried to be a great teammate, win or lose.
— Jean Tripam

In 2011, Tripam made another move, joining Kaiser’s Pizza/DeMarini/Guiness. During her three years on that team, she was a member of two Class D State Championship teams, two Great Lakes National Championship teams and the 2012 Class D World Series Championship teams at the Wide World Sports Complex in Florida. She was awarded All-Tournament honors at the State Tournament in Rockford and the USSSA World Tournament in Florida.

“I’ve played this game with emotion and love and I’ve always tried to be a great teammate, win or lose,” Tripam said. “I have had the privilege to play with, and against, some of the greatest softball players and coaches ever, and it has blessed me with some lifelong friends on and off the field.”

“I’ve met true pioneers of the game over the years. Players from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League would come to the tournaments, have a few beers and tell stories. That’s what I plan on doing as well, passing along wonderful stories to the next generation of slow pitch softball players,” she said.

Congratulations Jean – all your hard work has paid off and welcome to the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame!

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2018 Female Player: Betty Kollar

Betty Kollar

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The sport of softball was not prominent in Betty’s early life. She grew up on Parker Avenue on the Northwest side of Chicago, playing whiffle ball and sand lot league ball – she was not allowed to join little league back then. In high school, Kollar competed in basketball, tennis, track, soccer and joined a local Chicago 16-inch softball team.

During her junior year, Kollar was recruited to play for the farm team of The Ravens of the International Women’s Softball League. Although fast pitch was not her cup of tea, it was at this time Kollar was introduced to USSSA 11-inch slow pitch softball. For the next 12 years, she got to meet and play with some of the greatest players, coaches, sponsors and mentors of the game.

In 1978, Kollar played on the Bud Light sponsored team, home base in Deerfield, Illinois. When that team folded, coach Mary Biondi-Kasinski of Precision Softball from Racine, Wisconsin stepped in and recruited Betty and many of her Bud Light teammates to join what would become a dominating USSSA Class A team.

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The Precision team finished top in every Wisconsin league and tournament they entered. Rated as the best USSSA Class A team in Wisconsin, they traveled to as many NITs as possible.

Small in stature, Kollar surprised many opposing pitchers by her excellent speed on the bases that allowed her to reach extra bases, especially when there was no fence and she scored a home run or two. Batting in the top half of the order, Kollar had a consistent high on-base percentage (.558) and covered center field with her signature slide and catch of short-looping fly balls.

Precision Softball had great chemistry with National and Illinois Hall of Fame inductee Laura Filip on the mound, 2017 Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame inductee and outfielder Mary Ellen Buckley and an all-star roster of the area’s best softball players. Precision had their best finish in the 1984 USSSA World Tournament – 4th place!

Kollar is humbled to be an inductee in the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame. Welcome Betty Kollar into the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame!

1997 Female Player: Helen Biddle

Helen Biddle

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The first baseman/outfielder, Helen Biddle, excelled in the clutch, always coming up with top performances in the biggest games. She also averaged over .500 during a 30-plus year slow pitch career. Biddle played Women’s A ball with Stroh’s Lassies and Outsiders. In mixed ball, she played with the Batavia Moose and Glidden Drug Store.

Biddle was twice named to the Women’s Class A Illinois All-State team (1980-1981), and was a three-time member of the USSSA Class A Women’s All-World team (1979-1981). She was named Best Female Defensive Player at the 1982 Mixed Competitive NIT in Hutchinson, Kansas and was on the 1984 Mixed NIT All-Tournament team in Rockford, Illinois.

In 1984, she was named to the Women’s All-Time All-World team by the USSSA National Hall of Fame Committee. In 1985, Biddle won the USSSA deBeer Pollack Woman of the Year Award.

1999 Female Player: Jan Wilson

Jan Wilson

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Jan Wilson’s 25-year career began in the 16-inch program, converted to 12-inch and then 11-inch when the USSSA adopted that ball in 1979. Her ten-year career in the USSSA consisted of three Class A State Championships and appearances in six USSSA Class A World Tournaments.

Considered one of the top power hitters in the women’s program, Wilson hit in the “meat” of the order, belting over 200 home runs and having a lifetime USSSA batting average of .557.

All-State Tournament Team honors include: 1979 with the Chicago Stingers; 1982 and 1984 with The Chicagoans, Class A State Champions. 1980 also produced an All-State Award with the Chicago Wind, runner-up in the Class A State Tournament. In addition, this first baseman/catcher earned All-Tournament team awards at the 1982 Milwaukee NIT and in 1990 at the Rockford NIT.

She stated her challenge to all male and female players, “Keep the game alive, pass on your passion. Give the young players an opportunity to experience the fun, success and camaraderie to which you were privileged.”

1999 Female Player: Mary Malpede

Mary Malpede

Behind Mary Malpede’s pitching, her team won over 500 games and appeared in ten USSSA Class A World Tournaments. Compiling a 30-20 record at these National events, she spent the last 11 years of her 16-year career in USSSA competition.

The Chicagoans won the Illinois Class A State Tournament in 1982 and 1984, and with a team name change to C.M.C., they won the State Title again in 1988.

Mary’s pitching brought much success at many USSSA NITs including The Lassie Invitational, Werner’s at Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Rockford and Louisville, Kentucky.

The Chicagoans and C.M.C. were ranked in the top ten nationally for many years due to solid defense and power hitting. Although power hitting was not Mary’s forte, she could move the runners on her base hitting.

Mary sums up her attributes not as physical but as personal accomplishments learned by the camaraderie she had with such a great group of athletes and friends she made in softball.

1999 Female Player: Sheila Eversole

Sheila Eversole

Sheila Eversole played softball for 20 years, of which ten were spent playing USSSA. She was respected for both her offense and her defense, making her one of the most sought-after softball players in the Rockford area.

She participated in ten USSSA World or Divisional Tournaments. Three times, she was named to USSSA All-Tournament teams and twice as MVP.

She was a strong pull hitter with a career batting average of over .600 and the capability to hit either the base hit or home run. With her great speed on the base paths, her teammates loved batting behind her knowing she would be able to score on a base hit.

She was an all-around athlete who excelled in all sports at Harlem High School and Rock Valley College.

Sheila’s teams include: Town Hall, Prairie Moon Saloon, Three Hammer and Blackhawk Athletic Club.

2001 Female Player: Debra Stamm Germann

Debra Stamm Germann

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Back in 1976, Debra Stamm Germann received an exemption to play ball with an adult softball team while still a Milstadt High School junior. It marked the beginning of a career that would see Germann win numerous All-Tournament and MVP honors in two softball associations over the next 15 years.

During summers off from playing volleyball and fast pitch for Southern Illinois University and Illinois State University, Germann played slow pitch with Hecker-Miller Lite.

Throughout the early- and mid-80s, Germann won numerous All-Tournament and MVP honors. In 1985, she joined Coors Light out of Champaign. Playing shortstop and batting lead-off, Germann, along with teammates Marion Bell at first, pitcher Carol Stark, outfielder Vicky Winchester and power hitting Carol Moering, won the USSSA Women’s Class A State Title in 1985 and 1986. Coors turned in final four finishes at the USSSA World in Springfield in 1985 and the 1986 World in Parma, Ohio.

Along the way, Germann married Mark Germann, and by 1990 she had new priorities – she was pregnant with daughter, Amy – causing her to hang up the spikes. She is now a physical education teacher and helps run Mark’s construction business.

She was the one everyone looked to for leadership and to come through in the clutch.
— Marion Bell

However, while Germann has forgotten many of the details of her playing career, many who witnessed her athletic accomplishments have not.

“She was the one everyone looked to for leadership and to come through in the clutch,” Marion Bell, a Hecker and Coors teammate, said.

Fellow 2001 inductee Gloria Kolbusz, whose Chicagoans won three USSSA Class A titles, remembers Germann’s Coors team as highly competitive, well-coached and Germann as a force to be reckoned with at the plate, on the base paths and in the field.

“She was one of the best shortstops around,” Tom Burton, Lassies manager, said. “For as tall as she was, she had great range and quickness. [At the plate] she had good power and was consistent.”

Illinois USSSA State Director Brenda Paulson remembers the first time she saw Germann play clearly.

“The first time I ever saw her play, at the Lassies NIT in St. Charles, she stroked a base hit to right, and was standing on second before they got the ball in to the infield,” Paulson said.

Germann is honored by her induction.

“As I sat with Marion Bell filling out the application form, we were laughing at all the memories that came up,” she said. “It was all about the teammates, the camaraderie.”

One more time, it is all about a great teammate and softball player, with Debra Stamm Germann’s induction into the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame.

2001 Female Player: Barb Beimal

Barb Beimal

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Ask people to talk about shortstop and outfielder Barb Beimal and most of them will respond, “She could always get a hit.”

A skilled place hitter and defensive stalwart throughout her playing career, Beimal established herself as one of the top woman players in Illinois from the mid-70s through the mid-80s, starting with Big Blue out of Lombard, then the National Bank of Rochelle and later with Prairie Moon Saloon of Rockford.

Always an outstanding athlete, Beimal was the first woman to receive an athletic scholarship to Northern Illinois University. She was also the only woman to ever play three major sports – volleyball, basketball and softball – for four years at NIU. She brought that combination of athletic skill and tenacity to her USSSA career.

Beimal was a .610 lifetime average place hitter who prided herself on talking the ball “wherever it was most advantageous to our team.”

Once on the base paths, the fun was just starting for Beimal, who was particularly adept at manufacturing runs.

“I always enjoyed base running,” she said. “And I loved to make the defense throw the ball around and away.”

Even when she made a mistake, Beimal made up for it. On one occasion, she was charged with an error on a difficult play with two outs in the seventh inning of a previously perfect game. Disappointed but not shaken, she responded by turning a double play on the next batter, salvaging a no-hitter for her pitcher.

Beimal likely would have received more national attention if she had played on more nationally competitive teams, but she valued playing with people she knew and liked more than tournament trophies.

The USSSA organization should be commended for its outstanding efforts in bringing quality athletics to girls of all ages and color, across the nation. [It] has helped literally hundreds of thousands of young girls develop into strong, confident, successful women. I am grateful and I will speak for all those who were given the same opportunity when I say ‘thank you’ from the bottom of my heart.
— Barb Beimal

While her teams did not always dominate tournaments, Beimal certainly stood out. One season, she was named the tournament MVP in five of the seven tournaments her team played. She won eleven MVPs overall, and was also MVP of an All-Star game.

After nearly 25 years in the game, Beimal appreciates the USSSA experience more than ever. Now a Dean of Students at a high school for troubled youth in Florida, she plays softball recreationally; however, it’s the well-being of future generations that’s most important to her.

True to her calling as a coach and mentor to young people, Beimal is thankful to the USSSA not just for what the sport has given her, but also for the opportunities it affords countless girls throughout the country.

“The USSSA organization should be commended for its outstanding efforts in bringing quality athletics to girls of all ages and color, across the nation,” Beimal said. “[It] has helped literally hundreds of thousands of young girls develop into strong, confident, successful women. I am grateful and I will speak for all those who were given the same opportunity when I say ‘thank you’ from the bottom of my heart.”

The Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame returns that sentiment and honors a great softball player and role model.

2002 Female Player: Jo Suave

Jo Suave

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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.

Softball opened up everyone’s world to new people, new situations and friends, and an inner feeling of satisfaction I’ve never gotten from anything [else].
— Jo Suave

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.

2003 (Spring) Female Player: Deb Keller

Deb Keller

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Playing on two of the top Illinois women’s teams of the 1980s and early 1990s, pitcher Deb Keller produced 22 no-hitters and 40 one-hitters in her career.

An Aurora resident, Keller attended Willowbrook High School in the early 70s with fellow 2003 inductee Don Loid, where she played softball, basketball and volleyball. Summers home from college, she began playing slow pitch. After graduation, she was playing on Lombard’s Big Blue and got to know the players on the Lassies.

“Their pitcher was retiring,” Keller said. “And I thought it would be a good opportunity for me.”

Keller ended up being right about that as she played on a team with the likes of Helen Biddle, Mary Stark and Nancy Starck-Shirley.

One of Keller’s biggest thrills over her career was being named to the All-World team in 1980 in Kingston, North Carolina along with her battery mate Jo Suave. The Lassies finished fourth at that 125-team tournament. The following year, they went 6-0 in the winner’s bracket, but lost their final two games to finish as Nationals runner-up. They qualified for World play four times over the next six seasons, and won numerous league, State and invitational titles.

“They were the greatest bunch of people I’ve ever been around,” Keller said of the Lassies. “We lived and breathed softball. Stroh’s was our sponsor back then and they took great care of us.”

Keller loved her experience with the Lassies, but she remembers softball fondly overall.

“In the 26 years I’ve participated in the USSSA, I’ve known nothing but kindness, support and encouragement from my team and other teams,” she said. “Every exchange with my friends and [teammates] has made me a better player, and a better person.”

Besides the excitement of top flight competition, Keller and her teammates had numerous adventures on the road, including buses breaking down en route to tournaments, bats being lost by airlines and monumental rain delays.

In the 26 years I’ve participated in the USSSA, I’ve known nothing but kindness, support and encouragement from my team and other teams. Every exchange with my friends and [teammates] has made me a better player, and a better person.
— Deb Keller

It rained most of the time at the 1981 World Tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas, to the point where teams would go back to the motel and try to grab some sleep while waiting for phone calls from tournament directors that would come at any hour of the day or night. Then, off they’d go to play.

After the Lassies disbanded, Keller moved to Playments in Elgin. Keller went back to the USSSA World Tournament with them in 1994 in Dunedin, Florida.

“I’m totally thrilled. I haven’t stopped thinking about it [my induction] since last year,” Keller said. “It’s really neat to be among the people who’ve been honored before me.”

Keller also appreciates the dedicated efforts of the people of the Illinois USSSA saying, “Thanks for giving me some of the best years of my life.”

The USSSA now thanks Deb for always giving softball her best effort.

2003 (Spring) Female Player: Marian Bell

Marian Bell

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Since she first started playing adult competitive slow pitch as an eighth grader, Southern Illinois native Marion Bell has played every position in 20 years of softball, the last ten of them in USSSA.

A .650 lifetime hitter, Bell had power to all fields. That talent led her to be selected to the USSSA Class A All-State team in Rockford in 1985, and helped her teams qualify for several USSSA World Tournaments.

After starting out with Fred Bach Auto Body of Belleville, Bell moved to Miller Lite of Belleville (later “Hecker”). Towards the end of her career, she played two seasons with Coors of Champaign.

From the time she was 18, Bell has been a player to whom teammates have looked for support, guidance and leadership. In fact, Bell is remembered as much for her organizational and logistical skills as for her talent, particularly with the Miller Lite teams.

Bell retired in 1988 following her second back surgery to repair a cracked disc injured playing indoor softball.

“It’s kind of hard when you don’t get to pick your time to leave,” Bell said.

Still, Bell retains many friends from the sport.

“I probably consider five of the girls I played with my best friends,” she said.

Another four or five she sees several times a year. “I made lifelong friends, and had a lot of good times,” she said.

Among those good times were the years spent hitting softballs over the fence at Fox Valley in Rockford.

One of her fondest memories though is being utterly lost in Kingston, North Carolina. After flying in for the USSSA World Tournament, Bell and teammate Deb Germann took turns changing into their uniforms in their rental car and looking fruitlessly for the park where the tournament was being held. Finally, they spotted another car with rental plates and asked them if they were headed to the park. The car’s occupants, Brenda Paulson and her husband Ken smiled and said, “Follow us.” Brenda had the women run ahead while she parked their car. Bell and Germann got to the field as the first pitch was being tossed and looked up later to see Paulson walking up, smiling, with their purses and bags in her arms.

In her softball retirement, Bell’s thoughts sometimes turn back to the game she spent a vibrant youth playing.

“We’re getting a few women who played fast pitch in high school or college,” she said of the sport today. “[But] I don’t see slow pitch leagues [for kids] being organized here. We need to get more kids involved.”

While her thoughts will be with the people gathered in Rockford for the induction ceremony, Bell cannot be there physically. “It’s very special, I wish I could be there,” Bell said.

2006 Female Player: Carol Stack

Carol Stack

Player, coach and director – all these describe Champaign’s Carol Stack. Primarily a pitcher with some time at shortstop, Stack was a tough, gritty competitor. It’s a bit tricky compiling statistics on Stack’s softball career, however, because she was more worried about team goals and making central and east central women’s softball more enjoyable and competitive.

In 1980, Stack was a player and coach the first two years for the Alley Cats, a Class B team from Champaign which played at the World Tournament in California that Labor Day. That same year, she played on ZZZ Fasteners, who finished fifth at the co-rec nationals. In 1982, she played and coached Class A team, Pia’s, from Champaign, but retired from coaching after that season. That season was also her first of four years as a USSSA director, during which time she helped start the USSSA women’s softball in the middle of the state amidst many doubts of its endurance.

“Initiating USSSA in central and east central Illinois was by far the most exciting event I remember,” Stack said. “It raised curiosity and interest in this area with the 11-inch ball, but I don’t believe that anyone in this part of the state felt USSSA could survive.”

That area had been dominated by another association, but Carol brought USSSA to central Illinois and it prospered in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

“Quite to the contrary, USSSA has emerged to be the dominant softball program in this part of the state,” added Stack.

USSSA softball provided an energizing lift to the game and in many ways challenged women in particular to play a faster-paced game with a smaller ball and lower pitched arc. I can say without a doubt 20 years later, USSSA is the program of preference in this area.
— Carol Stack

Playing alongside Hall of Famer Debra Germann and Marion Bell in 1985 and 1986, Coors won back-to-back Class A State Tournaments. Stack was named the Most Valuable Player in both those tournaments, which were held in Rockford. Coors also had successful results at the World Tournament those years, finishing in the top four in both 1985 in Springfield and 1986 in Parma, Ohio.

One tournament sticks out in Stack’s memories, painful as it might be. “I remember taking a line drive off my ankle and watching the extreme swelling process begin to the extent that I could barely put any pressure on my foot,” Stack recalled. Being the only pitcher available and with her team in the loser’s bracket, she iced her ankle for four straight hours until game time.

“It was like dodging bullets all evening on the mound because I couldn’t back off the pitching rubber to set up on defense because of the pressure it put on my ankle,” Stack said.

Stack and USSSA softball were a great fit, as was the USSSA for central Illinois.

“USSSA softball provided an energizing lift to the game and in many ways challenged women in particular to play a faster-paced game with a smaller ball and lower pitched arc,” Stack said. “I can say without a doubt 20 years later, USSSA is the program of preference in this area.”

We formally recognize all of Carol Stack’s accomplishments by welcoming her into the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame.

2007 Female Player: Cheryl Snyder

Cheryl Snyder

During the 1980s, Springfield’s Cheryl Snyder forever put her name on the map in women’s and co-rec softball. A very talented outfielder, Snyder played in many State, National and World Tournaments with the Alleycats as well as a very good ZZZ Fasteners club in her ten-year career.

Cheryl lists her career batting average at .310, which is more than likely much lower than her actual numbers. As far as home runs she hit, she has no idea, saying it was too long ago.

In 1980 at the National Tournament, Snyder was named to the All-Tournament Team, and in 1984 she was a member of the Class A State Tournament All-Tournament Team.

“One of the most exciting moments of my USSSA softball career was stepping onto the field against two top men’s and women’s teams in the country during our first Co-Rec National Tournament,” said Snyder. “It was a thrill to be up against the likes of Howard’s Furniture and the Virginia Bells. The biggest thrill came from the fact that we could actually compete and win against the best teams in the country.”

The fact that the USSSA was always seeking to improve the game of softball for everyone involved was something Snyder said breathed renewed life into the women’s game.

“The addition of USSSA brought a new excitement to the game of slow pitch softball,” Snyder said. “Maybe it was the novelty of the 11-inch ball, maybe it was the energy and enthusiasm of the State Director Brenda Paulson, or maybe it was the idea that the organization [USSSA] was built on a philosophy of improving the game by seeking input from teams and the players at every level.”

The addition of USSSA brought a new excitement to the game of slow pitch softball. Maybe it was the novelty of the 11-inch ball, maybe it was the energy and enthusiasm of the State Director Brenda Paulson, or maybe it was the idea that the organization [USSSA] was built on a philosophy of improving the game by seeking input from teams and the players at every level.
— Cheryl Snyder

Snyder said just being thought of as a Hall of Famer is something very special. She adds the chance to compete against the nation’s elite was something she will never forget.

“It is an honor to be inducted into the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame,” said Snyder. “I must admit, the statistics are long gone and somewhat of a distant memory. Although we enjoyed participating in several State, National, World and Co-Rec Tournaments, the most memorable aspect of my softball career was the opportunity to compete with and against some of the best softball players in the country. Of course, winning against those players and teams was even sweeter.”

We formally recognize all of Cheryl Snyder’s accomplishments and feats by welcoming her into the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame.

2008 Female Player: Jeri Siegfried-Mueller

Jeri Siegfried-Mueller

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In her 29-year playing career, 12 of those participating in the USSSA, Evansville’s Jeri Siegfried-Mueller played on some talented women’s softball teams.

Siegfried-Mueller, a solid shortstop with some time at third and first base, played on Dashners of Red Bud and Plums/Bud Light out of Belleville before retiring in 1997. A line drive singles hitter with some power, Siegfried-Mueller boasted a .640 average over her years on the diamond. In USSSA tournaments or leagues, she was named Most Valuable Player seven times and was selected to five state All-Tournament teams. Also in 1992, she was awarded the Most Valuable Defensive Player at the State Tournament in O’Fallon.

She played on teams that were Class C State Champions four times. With Dashners, Siegfried-Mueller and her mates won the 1986 Illinois State Title at Evansville and also in 1989 at Columbia; however, her fondest moment was her first participation in the USSSA World Tournament in which her club finished in eighth place.

“The most exciting event was attending our first World Tournament,” said Siegfried-Mueller. “The opening ceremony followed by the overwhelming number of teams. The quality of play and the friendliness of the other players was great. The tournament was well organized and the umpiring was good.”

While playing, I always tried to give 100 percent and be a team player. I never let playing the game of softball become a job. I enjoyed every game I played in.
— Jeri Siegfried-Mueller

All the great players want to play against the best competition and, in the early years, women’s softball in southern Illinois was just beginning. But Siegfried-Mueller has thanks for those who got the ball rolling in her area although she feels the number of teams and players decreasing.

“USSSA softball in southern Illinois is very small and I feel women’s softball is decreasing every year,” said Siegfried-Mueller. “I’m thankful to Mike Reeves and Brenda Paulson for getting the USSSA started here.”

Most players forget from time to time that the game of softball is just that – a game. While being just a game, it is still a requirement for players to give everything they have for not only themselves, but for their team. Over the years, Siegfried-Mueller feels she left it all on the field and loved every minute of it.

“While playing, I always tried to give 100 percent and be a team player,” Siegfried-Mueller said. “I never let playing the game of softball become a job. I enjoyed every game I played in.”

We honor a player who did everything in her power to make herself and her teammates better. It is with great pleasure that we say congratulations to Jeri Siegfried-Mueller for her induction into the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame.

2008 Female Player: Vicky Brown

Vicky Brown

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Even though the game of softball is deemed a “hitter’s game,” a good pitcher can play a key role in deciding if her team walks off the field with a win or a loss.

Over her 35-year career, Vicky Brown played with such teams as National Bank of Rochelle, Prairie Moon Saloon, Uniform Tooling and King Potter. She did her best to give her club an advantage from inside the pitching circle and she did that very well. Being a player/coach for 20 of those seasons also gave her another avenue to help her team meet their winning goals.

“Playing softball has been a wonderful, lifelong activity for me and my family,” said Brown. “I have gone from player/coach in Class B, to A, to C, to D and in 2007 a Rockford Park District player and team sponsor.”

Brown has compiled an impressive 800-300 pitching record spanning all levels over her illustrious career. She hit .360 with 40 lifetime home runs, but admits none were over the fence and they came early in her playing days when she was faster. She has to her credit a no-hitter, thrown in a USSSA-sanctioned tournament to go along with a pair of one-hit games in league play. She was once hit in the head by a line drive, which required 34 stitches to close, and she says some say she hasn’t been right since.

She was named to four Illinois State All-Tournament teams, twice in each the 1970s and 1990s. With King Potter, Brown was named All-Tournament at an NIT and later at the Divisional Tournament. In 1983, her club, Prairie Moon Saloon, finished seventh at the World Class A Tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas.

“Through the years I have made many lifelong friends, created a lot of great memories and learned many life lessons,” said Brown. “This includes fond memories of my dad, who kept score for my team for 25 years before his passing. I learned about leadership and teamwork through playing that I use today at work.”

A special thanks goes to Brenda Paulson and the Illinois USSSA for offering a venue for women to play, coach and perform at their highest level. When I started in the ‘70s, there existed no organized sports for women except for the USSSA. Since that time, women have won the right to compete at all levels, but Brenda and USSSA were the first and have stayed at the forefront in getting girls and women involved in organized sports.
— Vicky Brown

Her son Ryan, who grew up at the softball park, is taking over the reins from his mom as he pitches for his softball team now.

“I am very proud that he pitches, just like his mom, but he can also hit it over the fence, just like his dad,” Brown said. “Ryan plays four nights a week and weekends. I wonder where he gets it from.”

As for her thoughts on softball and the USSSA, Brown has special thanks for those who gave opportunities for women to reach their goals.

 “USSSA softball has been a positive part of my entire adult life,” Brown said. “A special thanks goes to Brenda Paulson and the Illinois USSSA for offering a venue for women to play, coach and perform at their highest level. When I started in the ‘70s, there existed no organized sports for women except for the USSSA. Since that time, women have won the right to compete at all levels, but Brenda and USSSA were the first and have stayed at the forefront in getting girls and women involved in organized sports. The numbers have fallen off the last few years, but I hope there will be renewed interest with the new professional women’s team in Rockford.”

We honor Vicky Brown’s great career in softball by welcoming her with open arms into the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame.