Nyeli Kratz is a very good softball player. She can play several different positions at a high level, including catcher which as any coach will tell you is a spot where you need consistency if not excellence to win ballgames.
But with Nyeli Kratz this story needs to begin in the classroom. This is where the Skyline senior has turned consistency and excellence into a trip to one of the most prestigious universities in the country – when she finally decides to pick one.
Making the SEC Honorable Mention softball team is a nice accomplishment. Getting flown out Cornell University because they want YOU to attend their university is a whole different ballgame.
Let’s start with Google. If you “google” highest points possible on the SAT you get this response: “The highest possible score you can earn on the SAT is 1600 points. To get this score, you have to get a perfect 800 on each of the two sections: Math, and Evidenced-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW). These scores are then totaled to give you a composite score of 1600.”
No, Kratz didn’t score 1600. But her total did add up to 1550 – which is more than good enough to have Ivy League schools (and the Ivy League school of the west) fighting for you to spend the next four years with them.
There are plenty of books and tutorials out there on how to study for the SAT. Maybe Kratz should write one because she didn’t exactly hire a high-priced tutor or purchase the latest SAT Road to a Perfect Score app. She kind of went old school – using her own school to prepare.
“I prepared for this test using the free resources available to every student at Skyline,” she says. “I used mostly Khan Academy and also a few practice tests that my teachers handed out. I think that the biggest thing that contributed to my success on this test is my love for reading. I have been consistently reading for fun since middle school and I think that it really helped me on the English sections.”
The schools on Kratz’s radar include Johns Hopkins, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, and U-M. She plans on studying biomedical engineering and says she owes much of the credit to her academic success to Skyline.
“As a student-athlete, I took advantage of the Academic Resource Center in the library after school to get some homework done before late practices and games,” said Kratz, who is the Head of Fabrication for the FRC Robotics Team at Skyline. “I also went to teachers for help during lunch when I was struggling in a class.”
Nyeli, the daughter of Kim Kratz, recently returned from a visit to Cornell where she met other admitted students from all over the world. The Ivy League school is located overlooking Cayuga Lake in upstate New York.
“The campus is obviously very beautiful with the waterfalls and Hogwarts-esque architecture,” she says. I had the opportunity to shadow in an organic robotics lab which was super interesting. One graduate student showed me her work on a soft robot that can transform from a tadpole into a frog, switching from walking to swimming. I am fascinated by the broad potential applications of soft robotics from search and rescue to non-invasive surgery.”
While she has run cross country and played basketball at Skyline, softball is her go-to sport. She started playing rec softball in first grade.
“There was something addictive for me about the feeling of hitting the ball hard, but I also loved the mental challenge of staying focused on every pitch,” she says. “I started playing travel softball (Intruders Fastpitch) when I was 9 years old and I’ve played ever since.”
Kratz said her freshman season was a struggle, both for her and the team. Things started to change in her sophomore year. After both of their catchers left the team, the Skyline coaches “asked me to step up and give catching a try.”
“I started catching and became a captain shortly before Coach (Martha) Stange took over as our head coach,” she says. “This was a pretty difficult year with a change in head coaches mid-season, but overall we improved a lot and won the Grosse Pointe South Tournament, putting the first softball trophy in Skyline’s trophy case.”
Their ride up the win column continued last season.
“It was our best season yet,” she said. “Although we were battling injuries from the moment the season started, we made it to the District championship game after winning our first postseason game in program history.”
The Eagles hope to add to not only the win column but the trophy case this season.
“The goal for this season is to win Districts,” Kratz says. “Our District has been dominated by Howell for the past several years but I think we’re all starting to believe that this is our year.
“We have a lot of fun and we like to stay loose during games with music and dancing. The freshmen are definitely not shy this year, which has helped the team become very close very quickly.”