Sports Person of the Week
Bishop Living Her Dream with the Easties
Junior Emilee Bishop is making significant contributions for the East Haven softball team as both a pitcher and a shortstop this spring. (Photo courtesy of Emilee Bishop)
Emilee Bishop grew up in a softball environment with a family full of athletes living right next to the Momauguin Little League complex. When it was her time to take the field, Emilee made the most of it and has since gone on to become a key member of the East Haven softball team, currently playing both pitcher and shortstop in her junior year.
Emilee’s mother Jennifer, uncle Tom, and aunt Jill—who is currently the head softball coach at Southern Connecticut State University—all grew up playing either baseball or softball. Emilee’s father Robert wanted to get her involved in a sport at a young age and helped her stick with it during times when she considered giving up. Overall, Emilee’s family proved instrumental in teaching her about softball and fostering her love for the game.
“It was definitely a privilege. Not a lot of kids are able to be coached and taught by people who have experience playing,” says Emilee. “It made such a difference having a female coach in my aunt at such a young age. I was able to have one-on-one time and be myself. I was comfortable in learning how to play the game.”
Emilee started playing tee-ball when she was four and continued in Momauguin Little League until age 12. Meanwhile, she also started playing for the Connecticut Hornets travel softball team when she was eight. By playing so much softball at a young age, Emilee felt comfortable and confident when it was time to make the jump to high school.
“I was able to realize at a young age how important the mental part of the game is. If I didn’t have the experience of extra practices and going to a pitching coach and my family, I would not be where I am mentally,” Emilee says. “I have confidence and am comfortable in my ability. The extra reps helped me become much more comfortable.”
Emilee started pitching at the age of eight. Emilee took lessons with Cheshire High School pitching coach Kelly Brenner and did everything she could to improve on the mound. Now a junior at East Haven, Emilee is serving as one of the Yellowjackets’ two starting pitchers alongside Tori Heaphy. In order to get to that point, Emilee had to understand the mental side of pitching before the physical aspect.
“Pitching is a very mental game. I really have to take it pitch by pitch, stay focused, and understand the bigger picture of the game. It took a lot of experience to get comfortable,” says Emilee. “I’m in charge of the play. I have to focus and be confident in myself. We’re getting to a bigger level now. I’ve been learning new pitches, working on my spots and location.”
Emilee joined the East Haven softball team as a freshman and promptly became the varsity squad’s starting shortstop, in addition to pitching. Emilee had grown up playing with many of her current Easties’ teammates and says that sharing the high school diamond with them is a dream come true.
“I played with the girls who I play with now. It was something we would talk about when we were younger and get so excited. To be together at the high school level was a dream,” Emilee says. “It has been great. It’s definitely a different experience. In travel, it isn’t broadcasted. In high school, people ask you how you did. That’s what makes it different.”
Last year, Emilee saw her sophomore season get canceled as a result of COVID-19. When she was away from the field, Emilee focused on fitness and spent a lot of time working out. Even though she wasn’t competing, Emilee feels that she used her time wisely and was more than ready to get back at it in her junior year.
“As the years go on, I grew so much more love for the game. There’s so much more to it. It’s not just hit the ball, catch the ball,” says Emilee. “During quarantine, I fell in love with working out. I would throw by myself, hit off the tee, and did anything I can do to improve. It has helped me so much more with my confidence. It all came together. When the season started, I was ready to go.”
Emilee continues to pitch and play shortstop for East Haven as a junior this spring. Head Coach Ed Crisafi says that having Emilee on the roster gives the Yellowjackets a pair of strong starting pitchers—something that he knows is crucial for East Haven’s state championship aspirations.
“Emilee has brought a nice complement to Tori and gives us a great 1-2 punch on the mound. She is also an outstanding shortstop and an accomplished hitter,” says Crisafi. “She’s an important part of this team as we try to make another run in the tournament.”
As she continues through the program, one of Emilee’s biggest goals is to help East Haven claim a state title. She’s also looking forward to continue playing alongside a group of teammates who she calls her “backbone.” After she graduates, Emilee is hoping to keep playing softball in college, while pursuing a career in nursing.
From learning the game with her family to competing for the Yellowjackets, Emilee has always loved the sport of softball. Emily grew up dreaming about playing the game on a big stage, and she feels grateful that she has the opportunity to do in East Haven.
“I have dreamed of playing at this level since I was four or five. It’s crazy to be here,” Emilee says. “Stepping up to the plate when it’s bases loaded and there’s two outs, everybody is cheering. It’s such a dream. I would not trade it for anything.”