A dedicated ESPNHS team managed the Gatorade Softball Player of the Year selection process, resulting in this winner based on the program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2011-12 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character.
For her 48 fellow Gatorade State Softball Player of the Year winners, click here.
THE WINNER: Kelli Connors
School: Waterford (Conn.)
Position: Right-handed pitcher
Athletic achievement: Connors led the Lancers to a 24-1 record entering the Class M state semifinals, scheduled for June 5. A two-time returning Class M All-State selection as named by the Connecticut High School Coaches Association, she owned a 20-1 record in the circle with a 0.87 ERA and 151 strikeouts in 137 innings pitched entering the state final four. Also the returning All-Area Player of the Year, Connors batted .379 with one home run and 19 RBI through 25 games. A member of Waterford’s 2009 and 2010 Class M state championship teams, she entered the state tournament with a 67-4 career pitching record.
Academic excellence: Also a volleyball standout, Connors has maintained a 3.04 GPA in the classroom.
Exemplary character: In addition to donating her time as a youth softball instructor, she has volunteered as a physical education teacher’s assistant at The Friendship School and on behalf of The Colby Sousa Scholarship Fund.
“She’s a hard-working kid,” said Kate Peruzzotti, head coach at rival Fitch (Groton, Conn.). “What I admire most about her is how well she’s done over the past four years -- just the growth has been amazing, how she’s dominated in the circle over her entire high school career. It says a lot about her. She’s been remarkable.”
THE FUTURE: Connors has signed a National Letter of Intent to play softball on scholarship at Florida Southern College this fall.