As a freshman in 2020, Emma Quattrocchi had about 12 hours to make her presence felt on the Lawrence High School softball team.
Turns out that was more than enough time.
“She came out with a bunch of friends who played travel ball together; and then COVID hit and we got four days of practice and that was all we saw of Emma,” coach Dana Williams said. “But even then she came out as a little firecracker. As a freshman you could tell that she’s a competitive player. She was very serious during tryouts and has just a great team personality. You could tell kids like to be around her and she wants to be a part of it all.”
Upon returning as a sophomore, Quattrocchi was in the middle of it all during the Cardinals 13-8 season.
She hit .333 (21-for-63), which was third on the team behind Katie Ciuffreda (.411) and Allie McGuire (.378). Her six doubles led the Cardinals, and her 13 RBIs tied for the team lead with Ciuffreda, Paige Lamson and Emily Chu. She was third on the team with 16 runs scored and tied for second with two triples.
All that was accomplished while playing outfield on a steady basis for the first time in her career. Quattrocchi never let one facet of her game affect the other.
“They’re two sides of the game—offense and defense,” she said. “I put in the extra work on the defensive side, and the offensive side I just focus on what I know how to do.”
The result was a complete player who could impact a game with her bat and glove. That’s pretty impressive considering Emma was a regular catcher throughout her career.
“I played outfield before but I never considered myself an outfielder,” she said. “I’d go out there in extra innings and stuff. It wasn’t like this was a totally new position for me, but I was never really an outfielder.”
According to Williams, Quattrochi is an outstanding catcher. But so is McGuire. The coach wanted to have both lethal bats in the lineup and, since she needed a centerfielder, decided to experiment there with Emma.
“To say she worked hard would be an understatement,” Williams said. “She got every extra rep she could possibly get. She wanted the reps going up against the fence, she wanted the one-hopper, she wanted the do-or-die. She was basically telling me ‘Coach, I need more of this or more of that.’
“If she made an error on a throw or she thought she could have caught the ball, it would be ‘Coach can I get another one?’ That’s just Emma. It paid off. If you asked any other coach in the CVC, they would say our centerfielder is one of our strongest players.”
Quattrochi’s ability to adapt is no surprise, considering her athleticism. Taking after her mother, Megan, Emma is a two-sport athlete. She had two goals and 11 assists for the Cardinals Mercer County Tournament champion field hockey team in the fall; but considers softball her main sport.
The junior got started at age 5 when Megan convinced her to give softball a shot. After playing t-ball she joined the Lawrence recreation league. When she and some friends began taking it more seriously, they joined the Lawrence XTreme travel team. From there it was on to the more competitive Ewing Edge, where Emma has been ever since.
Through it all she was a catcher, which she began around age 8 and enjoyed immensely.
“I played other positions but at younger ages you’re not super involved in the game at other spots on the field,” Quattrochi said. “With catching you’re always in every play and I think I loved that about the position. That’s why I chose it.”
Being a catcher also involves being a leader, which Emma has been throughout her career. Although this year’s captains are all seniors, Williams notes Quattrochi still leads just by her natural personality.
“I try to lead through how I play and try to just be positive out there,” she said. “I always try to pick everyone up and just be friendly with everyone. In the outfield I’m pretty vocal, always trying to tell people where they’re going next because that keeps me super involved in the game.”
It’s pretty impressive to be giving directions after just one year as a fulltime outfielder, but Quattrochi worked on the mental aspect of the position as much as the physical. When Williams asked her to take on the new position, rather than considering it an inconvenience, she saw it as a fun, new challenge.
“I think it was exciting to try something new,” Emma said. “I always loved catching because I was always so involved in the game. Transitioning to the outfield in high school was fun for me to try something new and to challenge myself. It’s a new perspective. As you get older and develop, the outfield becomes a bigger part of the game, and centerfield is such a cool position.”
Williams was amazed at the work Quattrochi put in to improve herself. While she felt balls in the gap and being an outfielder leader were the biggest adjustments, she handled most other aspects fairly naturally after countless hours of practice.
“I just don’t think she knows how to give anything less than everything she has,” Williams said.
Especially when she enjoys it. Since McGuire’s big bat is still on the team – the Cardinals return every starter – Emma is happy to stay out from behind the plate. With a year under her belt, she has no doubts she can handle the position over the next two years and is looking to play it in college.
“I always knew I loved the outfield but I never felt comfortable out there because I never got much experience,” she said. “Last year really gave me the confidence and appreciation for a new position.”
Meanwhile, she remained the same old stud at the plate; giving Lawrence some power numbers that she is looking to improve upon this season.
“I always want to work on hitting the ball farther and harder,” she said. “I feel like I’m super consistent but I hit a lot of singles and stuff like that. I want to improve on that. . .maybe even hit a home run,” she added with a grin.
Williams is unsure where Quattrochi will bat in the lineup, feeling she is versatile enough to hit at the top, bottom or somewhere in between. The coach loves her approach at the plate.
“It’s her mentality,” Williams said. “She’s that type of kid where if she misses on a pitch or makes a mistake, you can tell she’s determined to get the next one. You can tell by her body language she’s ready to get the next pitch.”
But she is not just flailing away.
“She’s constantly critiquing herself,” Williams continued. “She’s definitely got the softball IQ to back it up. She’ll tell me before I say a word what went wrong with her swing and what she wants to work on next.
To provide an idea of how valuable Quattrochi’s offense is to the Cardinals, she hit .405 (17-for-42) in their 13 victories with 11 RBIs and 13 runs scored. Emma went hitless in just one of the 12 wins that she played in.
“She also got some hits against some big teams, like Hightstown, Steinert,” Williams said. “We lost those games but she got hits against some good pitchers. She’s got this fearless, competitive drive about her, but everybody loves to be around her. She’s got a nice balance to her.
“Honestly, she’s such a pleasure to coach. It’s cool. This is my second year as the softball head coach and I’m learning a ton for her. It’s great, I like it. She brings up a lot of the details about the game.”
One detail she doesn’t mind talking about is how good Lawrence may be this season. With Chu back in the circle after going 11-8 with 118 strikeouts last year, and with every position player returning, the potential is there for a nice campaign.
“I think it’s super exciting,” Quattrochi said. “Everyone is back and we have that bond together. Last year we had a successful season. We’re hoping to improve on that and get farther.”
However far they go, Quattrochi will be helping to make an impact along the way.