Nadolny of L'Anse Creuse looks to set state home run records, lead her team to a district titleSoftball  |
Harrison Township – Brooke Nadolny is riding a power wave that has her on the path of smashing the state record for career home runs.
Nadolny, 17, is a junior pitcher/shortstop at Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse and last season she belted 22 home runs that set the single-season record. She shares that record with Taylor Dew of Muskegon Mona Shores who also hit 22 home runs last season as a junior.
Nadolny hit six home runs in 34 games her freshman season and has six home runs this season in her team’s first eight games giving her 34 for her career. Addison’s Erika Underwood (2012-15) holds the career mark with 49.
Nadolny and Dew, who has 39 career homers through nine games this season, both have a reasonable shot at surpassing Underwood’s record this season.
Last season was a break-out year for the state’s home run hitters. Abby Krzywiecki of Farmington Hills Mercy set the record by hitting 20 in 2016. In addition to Nadolny and Dew, Lauren Esman of Richland Gull Lake also passed Krzywiecki by hitting 21.
Few are as surprised as Nadolny by how well, and how far, she’s been able to hit the ball recently.
“I’ve always been good at hitting,” she said. “I was really small (5-foot, 3 inches tall) as a freshman. Not that I was that big (5-6) as a sophomore but I was bigger. I’m 5-7 now.
“Going from six to 22, I didn’t expect to do that good. It was pretty cool, though. I didn’t know anything about state records or anything. Then a brother of one of our players said there’s a website (www.mhsaa.com) that has all the records and about midseason I figured it out.”
L’Anse Creuse coach Lisa Downey wasn’t all that impressed when she saw Nadolny for the first time. That’s all changed now.
“As coaches, you’re always looking for pitchers,” Downey said. “After all, that’s what this sport is about. At the (summer) camps I work at I always tell the players to let me know if you see a good one. So I had heard that there was this pitcher that threw hard. Brooke was in middle school, I think sixth grade, when I saw her and she was small, like 4-11 or so.”
Nadolny splits time in the circle and is a fine fielding shortstop but when she has a bat in her hands she takes the game to another level. As the only freshman in 2016, Nadolny led the team in batting with a .421 average. She hit .583 last season with 14 doubles and 57 RBI. Nadolny is batting .630 this season with four doubles and 14 RBI.
“She can hit,” Downey said. “She has great bat speed and a launch angle. She just got stronger over last year. I don’t think she changed anything. She’s a born hitter. She understands her swing and her approach is consistent.”
Nadolny has tried to maintain the same swing plain throughout her career. What has increased is her level of concentration.
“I really try to push through with my hands,” she said. “I extend my arms all the way through. Before I’d get jammed with a pitch and catch it late, and I’d lose power. Now I push through with my arms and try to extend them as much as I can.”
Downey saw signs of greatness in the last game of the 2016 season. The Lancers lost in a Division 1 district final to Romeo, 2-1, in nine innings but Nadolny was in rare form. She hit a home run and made two sparkling plays in the field at shortstop that helped keep her team in the game.
Then last year, in a doubleheader against Richmond, Nadolny homered in her final two at-bats of the first game and homered again in her first plate appearance in the second. She had a chance to tie another state record for home runs in consecutive at-bats but Richmond elected to walk Nadolny in her final three at-bats.
“I wasn’t upset,” Nadolny said. “I wouldn’t want to pitch to a girl who hit three (consecutive) home runs off of me either.”
Nadolny’s goals this season are to hit 23 home runs, or more, but said she’s “not getting stressed out about it”. And she would also like to lead her team to a district title. L’Anse Creuse last won a district title in 2015 and lost in a district final each of the past two seasons.
L’Anse Creuse’s biggest challenge in the district hosted by St. Clair Shores Lake Shore appears to be St. Clair Shores Lakeview (6-0), which is 1-0 in the Macomb Area Conference White Division.
L’Anse Creuse (7-1) is 2-0 in the MAC Blue Division and will play at division rival Grosse Pointe South (2-5, 0-2) on Thursday.
Click above to watch the feature on Brooke