Emma Kraus is not your typical student athlete. Unlike the other members of the Wakefield softball team, Kraus does not attend Wakefield High. She has been home schooled from the start and it has not deterred her from playing the game she loves.
Before joining Wakefield Little League softball, Kraus played in the backyard with her brother and played pickup games with other home schoolers. She joined Little League when she was nine and has stuck with it ever since.
Last year when she reached the high school age, Kraus, 16, decided she wanted to play for the high school. After a discussion with the superintendant and a lot of paperwork, she was allowed to join the team. Veteran coach Richard Quattrocchi was thrilled.
“She had played in the Little League system for years and so many people said great things about her,’’ said Quattrocchi. “Coaches told me that she would be the starting third baseman. They were absolutely right.’’
Kraus has made her presence known. As a two-year starter, she’s helped the No. 9 Warriors to the top spot in the Middlesex League, a huge feat considering they finished 10-10 last year. Wakefield is off to an 8-1 start, with Kraus serving as the team’s offensive spark. As the leadoff hitter she’s batting .518, has scored 18 runs, knocked in 18 RBIs, stolen 9 bases, and has a .780 on-base percentage.
“She’s the fastest kid on the team ,’’ said Quattrocchi. “She has everything and she’s so down to Earth and very humble. The kids love her.’’
A typical school day for Kraus varies. The home-schooling method Kraus follows is called the “unschooling process.’’ It gives students the opportunity to choose what they’d like to learn and pursue fields they’re interested in. Two days a week Kraus takes a psychology class at North Shore Community College and other days she focuses on subjects required to get into college. She would like to go to college and play softball at the collegiate level just like her teammates.
In addition to playing softball, Kraus is also a member of 4-H and volunteers her time teaching classes on how to make cameras. She also works with a program called the Memory Project, which sends photos to orphans in Haiti.
“I have a very busy spring,’’ said Kraus. “A lot of people perceive home schoolers as being home all the time. But I’m always out learning and going to places and taking different classes. It’s different from what people think. I don’t sit down all day in my pajamas. I go out and learn.’’
When she is on the field or with her teammates, she is treated the same as if she went to Wakefield High. Senior captain Marissa Wardwell, who has known Kraus since Little League, said it doesn’t make a difference that Kraus is home schooled.
“She’s there for everything we do as a team together,’’ said Wardwell. “She’s talented and aggressive. We’re confident in her. She’s very friendly , approachable, and very social. You’d never know she’s home schooled. She’s the same as everyone else on the team.’’
Kraus said it’s easy for her to fit in with the other girls on the team because they all share the same goal.
“We’re all out there to win,’’ she said. “All my friends on the team go to school and I don’t. However we all want to win and have fun. Right now we’re playing good softball and having fun with it.’’
She added, “Wakefield high has been extremely welcoming to me and I’m very grateful for that.
Games of the Week
No. 1 Milford vs. No. 14 North Attleboro, Monday, 3:30 p.m. — The Rocketeers (6-1) will try to stop the top-ranked Scarlet Hawks (10-0), led by Gatorade Player of the Year Shannon Smith. Milford has allowed only one run all season.
Methuen at No. 13 Dracut, Monday, 3:30 p.m. — The 6-3 Middies will be in the hunt for a Merrrmicak Valley victory after dropping a 4-3, 10-inning decision to Chelmsford Friday.
No 12. Central Catholic at Tewksbury, Monday 3:45 p.m. — This MVL matchup will feature a pitchers duel between Central Catholic’s Olivia Antczak and Shannon McLaughlin.
No.17 Abington at Carver, Monday, 3:45 p.m. — Both South powerhouses made state final appearances last year.