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‘It’s crazy’: Brooke Nadolny powers her way to Michigan home run record

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Brooke Nadolny of Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse hits a home run against St. Clair Shores Lakeview on Thursday.

Utica – Brooke Nadolny is having a blast rewriting the state record books while playing softball for Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse.

Nadolny, a strong 5-foot-7 pitcher/shortstop, hit 26 home runs during her junior year to earn a share of the state record for homers in a season, matched by Lydia Goble of Schoolcraft. Nadolny also hit .513 with 58 RBI in 37 games to help L’Anse Creuse win the MAC Blue championship.

What will Nadolny do for an encore?

She homered against Marysville in the first game of a doubleheader on April 13 to set the state career home record with 56, surpassing Julia Kennedy – now a freshman at Miami of Ohio – who hit 55 in 125 games for Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard from 2015-18. Nadolny hit another homer in the second game against Marysville to add on to her record.

Nadolny entered the season with 54 homers and matched Kennedy’s total with a homer in the season opener against Warren Cousino.

In L’Anse Creuse’s 13-5 win at Utica Tuesday, Nadolny went 4-for-4 with two doubles and two singles, along with a sacrifice fly to deep center with a heavy wind blowing in.

Following the win over Utica, Nadolny was hitting at a .731 clip through seven games with four homers and 16 RBI, giving her 58 homers in 112 games – or better than one every two games.

And L’Anse Creuse is off to a 7-0 start after being moved up a division to compete in the MAC White.

“I try to focus on hitting the ball, not really trying to hit home runs,” said Nadolny, who will play at Wayne State. “I’m hitting it hard, getting in front of it, like basics of hitting fundamentals. I don’t try to hit home runs because if you do that you won’t get them.

“For me, it kind of goes in slow motion in a way because you’re just so focused on the ball. I can like totally tell right away when (the pitcher) releases it if it’s coming inside or outside.”

Pitcher Brooke Nadolny of Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse throws against St. Clair Shores Lakeview on Thursday.

Nadolny said pitching has helped her as a hitter. She was the No. 2 pitcher behind Sammi Mills last season. Mills is now playing at Central Michigan.

“Since I actually throw those pitches I can tell like if a changeup is coming because you take more time to grip the ball,” Nadolny said. “If a pitch comes by I can tell instantly if it’s a curve or rise since I can see the ball so clearly in my head.”

It’s a treat to watch Nadolny hit as the ball explodes off her bat. That was on display in the seventh inning of the game against Utica when she lined a double off the foul pole in left field.

“She has fastest hands I’ve ever seen,” said L’Anse Creuse coach Lisa Downey of Nadolny. “She has super fast hands and great timing. She hits the ball very hard.

“She’s hit more home runs than any other player in state history. She has good at-bats, doesn’t swing at bad pitches, knows what she’s looking for, is very patient, a hard worker and really likes her team and her teammates. She’s just a great kid, not a look-at-me type.”

There have been some great power hitters in the past from around the state, including Amanda Chidester (Allen Park Cabrini), who went on to have an outstanding career at Michigan.

“It was exciting,” Nadolny said about breaking the state home run record. “But at the same time I wasn’t thinking about the record. It’s crazy. I could never imagine myself doing something so spectacular. I’m still mind-boggling.”

Nadolny said she chose Wayne State because it’s close to home and she may get an opportunity to pitch in college.

“I play shortstop, but I’d like to pitch too,” she said. “I like pitching because I like being in control of the game. You have to have good pitches or you’re going to lose. My best pitch is my curve, but I throw 62, 63.”

Nadolny has hit three home runs in a game multiple times. She once hit home runs in three consecutive at-bats against Richmond in 2017. Richmond went on to advance to the Division 2 state championship game that season.

“She’s a hitter, just really good,” said Howard Stuart, who has more than 1,000 career wins in 41 years as Richmond’s head coach. “She pounds the ball and if you watch her she seems so graceful. Sometimes people have this intense swing, but she seems to have a smooth swing where it seems like it’s so easy for her.”

Stuart said Richmond plays a doubleheader against L’Anse Creuse the Saturday before Memorial Day every season. He said that L’Anse Creuse fans weren’t happy with him a couple of years ago when after giving up multiple home runs to Nadolny, he finally walked her.

“I know I wasn’t very popular,” Stuart said. “But she hit several home runs against us already.”

Downey knows Nadolny could play Division I ball.

“She didn’t really want to go away to school, wanted to stay close to home; she’s very family-oriented,” Downey said. “She’s hoping to have a chance to pitch and that would not have occurred at a Division I school. She’s a hard thrower, that’s her strength, and I told the Wayne coaches she’s got the velocity and she’s kind of a late bloomer for a pitcher because when she was younger she was really small. She loves pitching. She just wanted a great fit and she loves the coaches at Wayne.”

Nadolny, who plays travel ball with the Michigan BatBusters organization, also shares the state record for RBI in an inning with seven against Marine City in 2017, then getting six RBI in an inning the following week in a game against Flushing.

Michigan career home run leaders

58: Brooke Nadolny, Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse (112 games, 2016-19)

55: Julia Kennedy, Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard (125 games, 2015-18)

52: Taylor Dew, Muskegon Mona Shores (154 games, 2015-18)

49: Lydia Goble, Schoolcraft (140 games, 2015-18)

Michigan single-season home run leaders

26: Brooke Nadolny, Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse (37 games, 2018)

26: Lydia Goble, Schoolcraft (33 games, 2018)

Brooke Nadolny’s statistics

Freshman: 35 games, .412 BA, 6 HR, 26 RBI

Sophomore: 33 games, .583 BA, 22 HR, 57 RBI

Junior: 37 games, .513 BA, 26 HR, 58 RBI

Senior: 7 games, .731 BA, 4 HR, 16 RBI