Fresno Hall of Fame to Induct Four Bulldogs
Fresno State head men's golf coach and alumnus Mike Watney is one of four former Bulldogs enters the Fresno Hall of Fame on Thursday night.
Fresno State head men's golf coach and alumnus Mike Watney is one of four former Bulldogs enters the Fresno Hall of Fame on Thursday night.

Oct. 30, 2012

By Elly Walker

FRESNO, Calif. --- The Fresno Athletic Hall of Fame is honoring nine inductees into the 2012 Fresno Athletic Hall of Fame. Of these nine inductees, four left a legacy at Fresno State as student-athletes in softball, track and field and golf.

These four inductees include Carie Dever-Boaz, Melissa (Price) Lewis, Jamie Southern, and Mike Watney.

Carie Dever-Boaz was Margie Wright's first softball recruit at Fresno State. As a Bulldog, Dever-Boaz posted an 84-12 pitching record, tossed 56 shutouts and posted six no-hitters. During her four seasons at Fresno State, she reached the NCAA Women's College World Series each season and finished second three times and fifth once.

The pitcher/third baseman was honored as a second-team All-American in 1988, '89, and '90. Dever-Boaz was a two-time Academic All-American and the university's female Big West Scholar Athlete of the Year in 1990. In addition, she was named All-College World Series twice, made the all-regional team three times and was a first-team all-conference choice four times.

Dever-Boaz went on to later become the head coach at Arkansas, where she led the Razorbacks to two NCAA Tournaments and six Southeastern Conference tournaments.

"It is an honor to be inducted into the Hall of Fame," Dever- Boaz said. "I joked with Coach Wright that it kind of makes me feel old, but it is like an exclamation point at the end of a great sentence in my life. That sentence is `Life is a game and a great one at that, one that I learned on the softball field!'"

Dever-Boaz continues to inspire and encourage young athletes as producer of softball training videos and as an international instructor in Holland, Canada, Italy and Australia.

"To this day I cherish the lifelong friendships and memories made while I was at Fresno State," Dever-Boaz said. "It was here that I was given the keys to my future."

Melissa (Price) Lewis, a pole-vaulter for the Fresno State's Track and Field team was known to train up to eight hours a day. Lewis was Fresno State's first female individual national champion where she won NCAA indoor titles in 1998 and 1999 and set the NCAA outdoor mark (14-3 1/2) in 1998.

Lewis was a three-time All-American and two-time Western Athletic Conference indoor and outdoor champion. She competed in the 1997 World Indoor Championships and 1999 World Championships.

She was a trailblazer for women pole-vaulters all over the world as she soared into the USA and NCAA record books and the USA Pole Vault National Summit Hall of Fame.

The nostalgia of her time as a student-athlete brought back many lessons Lewis learned under head coach Bob Fraley.

"Reaching short term goals builds confidence, real confidence," Lewis said. "I thought these ideas were only meant to help me be a better athlete, but turns out, they were meant to help me be a better person."

Jamie Southern, a Bulldog softball player became one of the greatest pitchers in NCAA history at Fresno State and a World Championship gold-medal winner for Team USA.

Southern not only excelled on the diamond, but also in the classroom. She was a four-time All-American and a two-time Academic All-American.

As a Bulldog, she posted an 118-34 record, with 79 shutouts, eight no-hitters, four perfect games, 0.51 ERA and 1,321 strikeouts in 1,088 2/3 innings. At the plate she hit .314, with 29 home runs, and a 127 RBI. Over her career, Southern held a slugging percentage of .479.

Upon ending her collegiate career in 2005, she ranked among the Top 10 in nine NCAA categories and in the Top 10 among 18 Fresno State pitching and hitting categories.

Following her time at Fresno State, Southern became a first-round professional draft pick and led her team to a 2005 and 2008 National Pro Fastpitch League championship. Southern continued to motivate others as a coach at the high school and college level.

Mike Watney was a golf standout at Fresno State where he earned honorable mention All-American honors in 1973. The Fresno native competed on the PGA Tour in 1978 and then became the Fresno State men's golf coach in 1979.

Watney's influence on collegiate golf brought the NCAA Championships to Fresno's San Joaquin Country Club in 1983 and the NCAA Western Regionals to Madera's Riverbend Golf Club in 2000.

Under Watney, the Bulldogs qualified for the NCAA Championships 25 times, highlighted by a school-best fifth-place finish in 1990 and a No. 3 final national ranking in 1987.

Watney entered his 35th season as head coach this year and through these seasons he has groomed 29 All-Americans and 17 All-American Scholars and his teams have captured 13 conference championships.

Watney has received the honor of district or region coach of the year three times and Big West Conference or Western Athletic Conference coach of the year nine times.

In recognition of his invaluable contributions to the game, Watney was also inducted into the Golf Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame in 2006.

Watney credits his family along with Fresno State for his success as a golfer and as a coach.

"There are many people to thank and it starts with my family," Watney said. "My parents influenced me to love the Lord. My wife of 36 years, Paula, is a shining example of being a generous and giving person. Our four children and six grandchildren are a fabulous blessing to both of us. However, this honor would not have been possible without Fresno State. I've had the pleasure of graduating as a Bulldog and then working here for 34 years. The college campus is a terrific place to be. It keeps you energized. I've had the honor of working alongside some absolutely great coaches, amazingly loyal boosters, creative administrators, and phenomenal student-athletes who had such a positive influence on me. Thank you, Fresno State."

The Hall of Fame Dinner will be on Thursday, Nov. 1 at the Fresno Convention Center.