Emi Connell has hit 17 home runs this season for the Liberty High School Patriots. COURTESY PHOTO, Lindsay Barnes

Emi Connell has hit 17 home runs this season for the Liberty High School Patriots. COURTESY PHOTO, Lindsay Barnes

17 homers and counting in Renton: Liberty High's Emi Connell a true power hitter

Sophomore slugger had three home runs and 11 RBIs in one game; hit homers in six consecutive games

If you aren’t familiar with Liberty High School sophomore Emi Connell, you should learn her name.

She is the designated hitter for the Liberty Patriots softball team, out of Renton and the Issaquah School District, and is having a historic season. Connell hits fourth for the Patriots and serves every purpose of the clean-up hitter.

“I figured it out about 12U when I wasn’t very fast,” Connell said laughing. “I just decided that I need to push through the ball and hit it as far as I can so I don’t have to run as hard.”

In the regular season, she hit 17 home runs. Yes, that’s correct. Seventeen homers, by the team’s count.

It’s a new season record for the Patriots, and it’s hard work paying off for Connell.

“I have recognized that it’s my job to bring runners around and score,” Connell said.

Over the course of the season, she hit home runs in three consecutive games early on. But even more impressively, she hit home runs in six consecutive games spanning April 17 to May 1 and was one game away from seven to close out the regular season.

When asked about the consistency of power, coach Lindsay Barnes had a unique answer:

“Yeah, we’ve had a player like that before and that player was me,” she said.

Her coach couldn’t sing Connell’s praises any louder.

“Emi’s got everything. She’s so talented, so coachable ... She knows what her role is and she takes it very seriously and has fun doing it as well,” Barnes said.

Connell’s most impressive game of the season so far was against Interlake on May 1. Connell went 3 for 3 with three home runs and 11 of the team’s 21 RBIs — all of which happened in three innings.

She hit a three-run homer in the first, and a grand slam in the second and third innings. It’s the first time she’s ever hit three in a game and Connell said it was all about confidence.

“I was feeling very confident in my timing,” she said.

Her third homer stuck out.

“I did my best to stay on time and wait for it. I was ready for it and I fired and it just went,” she said.

Connell has been coming back from a shoulder injury that has impacted her throwing ability, but her skill at the plate? Not so much.

“She grinds harder at practice than almost anybody else ... Once this shoulder thing has dissipated, people will be impressed with her defense as well,” Barnes said.

Connell is just a piece of a Liberty team that is looking to make some damage in the postseason this year. A team that has been consistently inside the Top 5 in the state’s RPI Ratings. The Patriots are on a 15-game winning streak, with the only loss is to Kentwood.

“From my perspective, we take it one game at a time and focus on the next team ... We realize we have a target on our back and everyone that plays us is going to give us their best,” Barnes said.

The Patriots went undefeated in the KingCo and are ready for the postseason. A unique attribute to this team’s success is the players’ chemistry.

“These are the girls I’ve thrown a ball with from day one. We work hard on every pitch to get every out. We’ve always had that chemistry and this year it’s just working really well for us,” Connell said.

The Patriots sit atop the KingCo standings and await the winner of the No. 4 vs No. 5 seed game in the KingCo tournament. Liberty plays that game May 9 at Juanita High School.

Liberty softball was also named WIAA 3A Team of the Month for the month of April.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentnews.us.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://kentnews.us/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Sports

Gabby Greenwood gives a yell after her home run against Graham-Kapowsin. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Kentwood falls in district championship, named five seed for state tournament

Kentridge makes second day of district tournament for first time since 2016.

Matthew Ledbetter leads off the game in the first inning at Sherman Anderson Field. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Kentlake baseball eliminated in Mount Vernon

Falcons fall 9-3 to third-seeded Bulldogs.

Christopher Moore went six strong innings against Stanwood. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Kentlake blanks Stanwood 5-0 in state tournament opening round

Falcons win behind solid performance from Christopher Moore.

Sarah Wright struck out 17 and allowed just two hits against Kentridge. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Kentwood fastpitch wins fourth straight league title

Wright and Conks down Kentridge 7-0 with 17Ks and 2RBI at the plate.

Brock England. COURTESY PHOTO, Canadian Sport School Hockey League
Kent-based Thunderbirds load up on Western Hockey League draft picks

Eleven players taken in Prospects Draft; two in U.S. Priority Draft, both from Dallas team

T20 World Cup trophy waits for fans to take photos. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Seattle Orcas, ‘America's Favorite Cricket Team,' builds local support

Event held at Bellevue Downtown Park can be catalyst for the world’s second most popular sport.

Ethan Loghry on the bump pitched a gem for the Falcons. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Kentlake baseball stays alive with a walk-off win

Falcons move on to winner-to-state game.

Keilor Cacho Garcia takes on a Stadium defender. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Royals soccer sent home in whirlwind of a second half

Kent-Meridian loses to Stadium 3-1, allowed three goals in six minutes in second half.

t
Seven former Kent-based Thunderbirds in Stanley Cup playoffs | List | Update

Barzal, Bear and Kolesar helped lead Seattle to Western Hockey League title in 2017

t
Seeing Green (River): Gators win first hoops title since 1969

Along with a ring, coach Godfrey Drake and sophomore Jaiden Feroah win yearly awards.

(Google screenshot)
Women's NCAA basketball tournament was a game-changer | Bench Talk with Ben Ray

It seems like we are entering a time where the WNBA is ready to take that next leap to become even more mainstream with the help of these athletes. Why is that?

Courtesy Photo
Kent News Male Athlete of the Week: Justin Jamison

Jamison has set a new personal record in the 400 every race this season.