2011 Male Player: Burgess M. Watts

Burgess M. Watts

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Being recognized as a team player perhaps is Burgess Watt's biggest reward, as this fiercely competitive shortstop/pitcher demands 100% from his teammates and has little interest in individual awards. Even though he has hit over 800 home runs in his 18-year career, he considers his defensive prowess and on-field leadership as his most contributing factors to his team's success stories.

After graduation from Wheaton Central High School, he went to Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, IL to play football, but after just one season, it was clear that his love for baseball was his true passion. This is when he transferred to the College of DuPage and following 2 great seasons with the Chaparrals on the diamond, it resulted in him being drafted in the 19th round of the 1990 MLB draft by the LA Dodgers.

This notoriety resulted in him being asked to begin his slow pitch participation with The Thunder from Aurora in 1993. This team only lost 5 games during the 1994 season that resulted in The Thunder capturing the Class C State Championship and finishing 2nd in the Divisional.

Following this success, Burgess found himself playing major with the Joe Black's team for the next 6 seasons, before stints with Home Run Inn, Ken Adams and Shenanigans. He presently is a member of the Ken Beverage squad that captured the Joliet National Invitational this past season.

Burgess has played with some very outstanding players and names Al Van Gampler, Joe Ambrose, Dan Prater, Scott McDaniel, Larry Sheppard and Brian Schultz as just a few that he has shared the diamoned with. He also thanks Irv Porter, Tom Stark, Ken Adams and Dan Catalcini for being his managers.

Burgess's most memorable experience was participating in the USSSA Men's Major World Series with Joe Blacks, even though they did not play as well as they had hoped. He, however, realizes the USSSA has provided him the ability to travel and meet some of the best players in the game, while also blessing him with many friends that he hopes to keep for along time. In addition, he thanks God for his abilities, his wife (Pamala) and the kids for their understanding why he was gone every weekend during the spring and summer, and his mother and father for introducing him to the game of baseball as a kid and support to this day.

2011 Male Player: Ronnie L. Bievenue

Ronnie L. Bievenue

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Ronnie Bievenue played every game as it was a title game and inspired his teammates to excel above and beyond their capabilities many times. Without a doubt, Ronnie was a dominating force in Southern Illinois USSSA softball for 20 seasons.

Ronnie began playing softball in 1965 with the Bill James Tavern team and continued to do so until joining the competitive Braun's Annie's Army squad in 1974 through 1978. In 1978, Ronnie joined the best team in Southern Illinois, the Southern Illinois Dons, which captured many league and tournament titles. This is where Ronnie gained recognition as a terrific shortstop and second basemen, as he posted personal season high batting marks of .740 and a lifetime BA of .650 with 300+ home runs.

His slick fielding abilities placed him on two all-state teams, while sharing the diamond with many hall of fame greats from the Southern Illinois area.

Among several of Ronnie's most memorable experiences were victories over Forest Hills of Rockford, Jerry's Bigger Jiggers of Centralia and East St. Louis Stars. His funniest experience happened at the 1978 World Tournament in Louisville, KY as he attempted to score from 2nd base on a single. The throw to home was perfect and Ronnie was called out by an exuberant umpire shouting, "You're out of there big man!" The name stuck and forever Ronnie was referred to as "Big Man" on ball diamonds everywhere.

Some of the best players that Ronnie played with were: Dennis Albert, Leon Kreher, Mike Kreher, Matt Myers, Dan Helfrich, Dwayne Laws and Steve Walker. His best coaches included: Bill Regan, Anna Braun, Rich Kaiser and Stan Wallach.

Ronnie's abilities on the diamond were many, his desire to win was unmatched, his enjoyment of sharing victory with family and friends was unbelievable. He was a "Big Man" from a small town that will always be remembered as one of the best!

2011 Male Player: Shane Amwoza

Shane Amwoza

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When Shane was a youngster watching his dad (Jack) playing softball, he never dreamed that he would someday enter the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame. His impressive 19-year resume proves that he belongs among Illinois' finest.

Being chosen a Most Valuable Player four times of a state tournament is a career highlight in itself, but add three more all-state honors and Best Defensive Player recognition, including a National MVP honor to make his resume truly impressive. Playing on six state championship teams with The Illusions, LT's, Snap-On, Creative Design and Ken's Beverage, along with national champion LT's in 200L, he has had a very rewarding career as not only an outstanding outfielder, but a productive pitcher as well.

Shane began playing softball in 1991 with the Bob Salvage team of Plano. Several years later, he reached the state Class B championship game with Mid-America Concrete in 1994 and with Home Run Inn during the 1995 season. In 1998, Shane experienced his first state championship with the Illusions and followed it up with state titles with LT's in 2000, Snap-On in 2002, Creative Design in2005 and Ken's Beverage in 2007 and 2008.

When Shane was asked who was his best coach, his answer was quick and lengthy as he answered "my dad and all my softball coaches." He also stated that the best players he played with are Scott Hill (#6), Jim Cushing (The Cush), Brian Schultz (Hobbs) and Jim Kersten (Tank).

Shane's most memorable softball experience was winning the 1998 State Championship, winning the 2001 National and playing in the 2007 World Tournament at Disney. At the 2007 World Tournament, he had his funniest experience when the sprinklers came on in the middle of a 1 a.m. game.

Shane's speed was perhaps his greatest overall asset and possesses a lifetime batting average of .585. His best tournament performance came in the 2001 South National Tournament when he batted .857.

Shame hopes to be remembered as a player that gave 100% every game and as a great teammate and friend on and off the field. He thanks all the sponsors and coaches that made it possible for him to play the game he loves, all his teammates, his parents (Jack and Carlene), family (wife- Sarah and children- Ty and Teaghan), and God for giving him the ability. He also thanks the Illinois USSSA for providing the competition that allowed him to make friendships that will last forever, along with all the memories.