Nadolny Revs Lancers with Record Power
By Tom Markowski
Special for Second Half
April 18, 2019
HARRISON TOWNSHIP – Now that Brooke Nadolny has set the state record for career home runs, the senior from Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse is taking aim at the national record.
Nadolny, 18, entered this season with 54 home runs, one behind 2018 Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard graduate Julia Kennedy. On April 9, Nadolny tied the record in the Lancers’ opener, a 4-2 victory over Warren Cousino. Four days later Nadolny hit No. 56 to break it in an 8-5 victory over Marysville. She added No. 57 during the second game of that doubleheader.
That’s three home runs over the first five games of the season, and she needs 19 more to set the national record. Kasey Flores, a 2018 graduate of Eastlake High in El Paso, Texas, owns that achievement with 75.
At this point, if Nadolny does set the national record it shouldn’t be a surprise. She hit 22 home runs with 57 RBI as a sophomore, and last season drove a state-record 26 with 58 RBI. Lydia Goble, a senior last season at Schoolcraft, also hit 26.
Nadolny is amazed by what’s taken place over the past two-plus seasons. She said she doesn’t try to hit home runs. Her objective is to hit the ball hard – and if it goes over the fence, all the better.
“It was exciting,” she said of setting the state record. “It was never in my mindset setting the state record. We didn’t think I’d get this close. I realize it’s rare for someone to get so many home runs. I can’t believe it’s me, that it’s happening to me.”
We need a look at history to give some perspective on the recent power surge in this sport. The pace at which home runs are being hit is at an all-time high. Prior to 2012 only one player, Melinda Van Gillis of Pentwater, had hit 18 home runs in a season. Since then 11 players have hit 18 or more, and a couple have accomplished this feat twice.
Some coaches and hitting instructors say there are two main reasons for the increase in home run production. One is that more players are taking full swings rather than employing the slap-hitting style many others continue to use. The second is a rule change that took place in 2011 that increased the distance from the pitching rubber to the plate from 40 to 43 feet. But even with that change, it took time for the batters to make an adjustment.
For her part, Nadolny doesn’t picture herself as a home run hitter – although there have been few in this state who could be considered at her power-hitting level.
She hit only six home runs as the starting second baseman as a freshman but, stepping back, that’s a good showing for a hitter making the transition from middle school softball to a varsity squad playing in Division 1. Nadolny stood 5 feet, 4 inches then, but experienced a growth spurt (adding three inches; she stands 5-7½ now) between her freshman and sophomore year – and her numbers took off.
She’s not had what might be described as formal or specialized training. She’s never had a hitting instructor, and she said she learned the basics while attending a hitting camp at age 6.
“I’m more experienced now,” she said. “I’m stronger. More things are coming together. I can’t pinpoint one thing. It’s everything. I’m kind of self-taught. It’s natural. It’s the naturalness of it. I’ve never changed (my swing). I’ve seen videos of softball players, (but) I really haven’t changed anything.
“I don’t think about hitting a home run. My travel coach (Jim Beard, who is also the head coach at Macomb College) said my swing looks so effortless.”
Perhaps that is the core reason. Hitting a softball just comes naturally for Nadolny. It’s timing. It’s muscle memory.
Lisa Downey, who played softball at Harper Woods Bishop Gallagher, is in her 25th season as the head coach at L’Anse Creuse. She takes no credit for Nadolny’s power surge. Downey said athletes born with that natural ability come around every so often.
“It’s a gift,” Downey said. “She was born with an amazing talent. She has superfast hands. Her hand-eye coordination is excellent. When she hits it, it just takes off.”
Among all of these home runs have been a number of special moments. On May 17 of last season, Nadolny homered in her first two at bats against Fraser and then came to bat with the bases loaded and was intentionally walked. Also during last season, she homered three times in a game twice and twice homered in three consecutive at bats.
Perhaps her most important dinger, as far as her team is concerned, came in the seventh inning of a Division 1 Regional Semifinal matchup last season against Clinton Township Chippewa Valley at Macomb Dakota. The score was tied 2-2, and Nadolny’s homer gave the Lancers a 3-2 victory and a shot at powerful Warren Regina in the Regional Final.
Regina prevailed 12-11, giving Nadolny yet another goal.
“(That loss) was hard,” she said. “It is what it is. I want to help my team get to states.
“It would be awesome if I pass (my personal record) again and get the national record. It’s possible, but I don’t stress myself out about it.”
L’Anse Creuse was 29-8 last season and the Lancers won the Macomb Area Conference Blue title and then moved up to the White this season.
Adding to this scenario, Nadolny has added responsibilities as a senior. This is her second season serving as captain, and she’s moved up to No. 1 in the pitching rotation after being slotted at No. 2 last season behind Sammi Mills (now the starting catcher at Central Michigan University).
Nadolny knows she has to be focused this season, much more than in the past. A volleyball player her first three years of high school, Nadolny opted not to play her senior season to fully commit to softball. She signed with Wayne State University and it’s possible she’ll pitch in college in addition to playing shortstop, her position at L’Anse Creuse when she’s not in the circle. She also may play outfield at the college level.
“I’m glad she signed early,” Downey said. “There’s a lot of pressure on a kid so young. She’ll pitch more (this season), which is even more pressure.
"(Wayne State) is a good fit for her. She’s family-oriented. She wanted to stay close to home. She seems very happy now that it’s out of the way. I only have two seniors, and she’s the one I go to. The good teams are player driven, and she’s our engine.”
So far that ‘engine’ is running in top form this season. Nadolny is off to a terrific start, in the circle and at the plate. She’s 4-0 (her team is 5-0) and batting .611 with those three home runs and eight RBI.
Tom Markowski is a correspondent for the State Champs! Sports Network and previously directed its web coverage. He also covered primarily high school sports for the The Detroit News from 1984-2014, focusing on the Detroit area and contributing to statewide coverage of football and basketball. Contact him at email@example.com with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties.
PHOTOS: (Top) Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse’s Brooke Nadolny prepares for her turn at bat. (Middle) Nadolny holds up the ball from her record-breaking home run. (Top photo courtesy of C&G Newspapers; bottom courtesy of the Nadolny family.)
Owosso Ace's Strikeout Total Stacks Up with State's All-Time Best
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
January 4, 2023
Owosso’s Macy Irelan earned 11 entries in the MHSAA record book over her three-year varsity career that came to a close last spring, most notably with her 1,157 strikeouts despite the 2020 season being canceled due to COVID-19.
Irelan’s career strikeouts were the second-most in the state since the pitching distance was lengthened three feet in 2011. She finished 31-7 last spring with a 1.43 ERA and 414 strikeouts in 229 2/3 innings in earning the Miss Softball Award for pitching.
She also hit .551 with 21 doubles last season, and her 55 career doubles over 117 games and three seasons made that category career list. She’s continuing her career at Kent State.
See below for more recent additions to the softball record book:
Unionville-Sebewaing’s dominating run to the 2021 Division 4 championship was filled with seven record book-worthy highlights, including many near the top of all-time lists. In going 40-3, the Patriots tied their season record for wins for the second time. Their 502 runs scored ranked third all-time, with their 493 hits tied for ninth, their 114 doubles second, their 49 home runs also tied for ninth, their 431 RBI also second and their 503 strikeouts thrown ranking third. Senior Brynn Polega completed her career with 13 record book entries despite her junior season being canceled because of COVID-19; she added listings for 71 runs, 79 hits, a third-best 28 doubles, 11 homers, 70 RBI, four perfect games pitching and 365 strikeouts, among others. Then-junior Laci Harris made lists with 77 runs, 83 hits, 22 doubles, 14 homers and 78 RBI, while then-junior Macy Reinhardt was added for 78 runs and then-freshman Gabriella Crumm was added for 16 doubles. Polega, Harris and Reinhardt also posted entries for single-game accomplishments. Polega is playing at Northwood and Harris at Madonna.
Big Rapids set a school record for wins in 2021 in finishing 34-7, a run which included a number of accomplishments that reached the record book. The Cardinals scored 439 runs – tied for 12th on that list – and also as a team were added for 428 hits, 82 doubles and 363 RBI, which tied for 10th all-time. Marissa Warren made the individual hits list with 71, while Hanna Smith earned an entry with 20 doubles and Rylie Haist followed with 19. Josie Cornell was added with 40 walks drawn. Warren, Smith and Haist were added for single-game accomplishments as well, as was Madison Affer from a 2019 game. Haist, Smith and Cornell are seniors this school year, and Warren is a junior. Smith has signed with Ferris State.
A pair of Bad Axe standouts earned record book entries in 2021 with their work at the plate. Haley Newland made the single-season doubles list with 19, and Brooke Messing was added for seven RBI in a game that saw her hit a grand slam and three-run homer. Newland graduated last spring and Messing is a senior this school year.
Montrose then-freshman Lainey Cannon made two record book lists with her performance April 25 against Montrose. She hit three home runs to make the single-game list in that category, and also made the single-game RBI list with eight.
Capac then-sophomore Madalyn Roberson made the record book three times with her performance May 9 against Brown City. She hit two home runs in back-to-back at bats, both during the fifth inning, and also drove in six runs for the game.
Spring Lake standouts now fill the record book after the addition of 55 individual and 23 team entries dating back to the 2000 season. Among listings ranking highest in their respective categories were Madelyn Nelson’s 81 runs in 2018, which tied for seventh all-time; Nelson’s 250 career runs from 2015-18) that rank seventh and Lauren Hellman’s 249 career runs also from 2015-18 that rank eighth on that list; Nelson’s 84 hits in 2018 that are tied for 12th-most all-time and her 264 career hits that rank 11th, Leah Vaughan’s 26 doubles in 2019 that rank seventh, Evie Lorimer’s 16 triples in 2011 that are tied for eighth and her 37 career triples from 2010-12 that are ranked fourth, Vaughan’s 23 career times being hit by pitch from 2016-19 which rank second, and Lorimer’s 92 stolen bases in 2012 that rank second (with all 92 coming consecutively to tie for fifth on that list) and 183 career steals that rank 11th. As a team, Spring Lake in 2017 ranked seventh all-time with 501 hits over 42 games, fourth with 109 doubles and eighth with 34 triples. The 2018 team ranks 11th with 441 runs scored over 41 games, 10th with 497 hits and tied for ninth with 100 doubles. Valerie Alter, Linsey Paggeot, Jenna Core, Molly Poole, Alicia Mumby, Leah Anton, Ann Marie Galloway and Rachael Adams also earned individual entries. Nelson went on to play at Grand Valley State, Vaughan plays at Aquinas College, Lorimer played at Central Michigan, Alter played at Jacksonville University (Fla.), Poole plays at Cornerstone University and Mumby played at Lansing Community College. Core plays volleyball at Hope College.
Freeland’s offense earned five record book entries during the team’s 26-12 season in 2022, including for 412 runs scored, 442 hits, 78 doubles, 336 RBI and a .400 team batting average. Three individuals also earned entries – sophomore Addie Steffen for a 20-game hitting streak and seven RBI in a game, junior Evelynn Rybicki for six RBI in a game and freshman Brynn Jaime for getting hit by a pitch twice in the same inning.
Chloe Parker hit .604 last spring and made the records with 20 doubles over 33 games for Niles Brandywine. She’s a junior this school year.
A series of record book entries were added for past and present Zeeland West standouts. Carly Sleeman was added for 73 runs, 75 hits, 27 doubles and 12 home runs in 2021 as a sophomore, while Lily Brower was added for 72 runs, 17 triples and 11 homers, plus 38 doubles and 29 triples over a four-year varsity career. Sleeman’s 27 doubles are tied for fifth-most in one season, and Brower’s 17 triples are tied for fourth on that list. Haley Hoogenraad was added for 70 hits and 17 doubles as a junior in 2015, 19 doubles as a senior, and 49 doubles and 24 triples over her four-year career from 2013-16. Kenzie Siersma was added for 17 doubles in 2017 and 54 over her career from 2016-19, while Courtney Sleeman made the season home runs list with 15 in 2015 and Sarah VanValkenburg made the career RBI list with 152 from 2014-17. Emily Brands was added for hitting consecutive home runs in the same inning, May 7 against Reese; she graduated this spring. Hoogenraad went on to play at University of Michigan, Courtney Sleeman played at Western Michigan, Siersma plays at West Virginia Tech, Brower played last season at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and Carly Sleeman has signed with Central Michigan.
PHOTO Owosso’s Macy Irelan unloads a pitch during the 2021 Division 2 Final.