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Shepherd sophomore Adri Nelson in pursuit of home run history WITH PHOTO GALLERY

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Adri Nelson made quite an opening statement one year ago in her first-ever varsity softball game.

Then a bright-eyed freshman, Nelson was called up to the Shepherd High School varsity team with only a few weeks left in the season. Nelson proceeded to sock a home run in her first game, one of the school-record 17 long balls the Bluejays hit as a team in 2015 as they posted a 28-9 record.

Shepherd coach Bobb Servoss knew very quickly he had a potentially special player on his hands.

“I could tell we were going to see good things from her,” Servoss said.

Fast forward to 2016 and Nelson is entirely locked in as a sophomore, socking nine home runs in 21 games following Monday’s incredible showing at Alma where she hit a homer in consecutive at-bats as Shepherd completed a sweep with an 11-3 victory. The Bluejays won game one by a count of 4-3.

As a team, Shepherd has already broken last year’s school record of 17 for home runs and Nelson now has an even bigger goal in her sights.

“We heard today that the state record is 18 home runs in a season so we’re going for that,” said Nelson, who plays catcher in the field.

Indeed, the MHSAA record for home runs in one season is 18 held by three players – Madison Jones (Romeo, 2015), Camri Grace (Williamston, 2014) and Melinda Van Gillis (Pentwater, 1979) – so Nelson could at least challenge the mark if she continues her current pace. Her next home run will put Nelson among all-time best home run seasons in Michigan high school history as the list at extends to players who have hit 10 homers.

But she would rather not think about hitting the ball over the fence as Nelson calls each of her home runs, “accidents.”

“Home runs are accidents,” Nelson said. “They’re mistakes. You see the ball and try to square it up to hit line drives. Sometimes if you hit it well enough it will go out. Once you start trying to hit home runs, you’re going to have problems.”

Servoss also pointed out that home runs come “accidentally”, speaking of the importance a line drive approach is to Nelson’s success.

“When she thinks she’s going to hit a home run everything drops and she’s got the popup blues,” Servoss quipped. “When she goes in there with a bat that is flat through the strike zone, she’s going to hit a bunch of home runs.”

The first home run Nelson hit Monday was a no-doubter, while her second dinger was hit high and powerful enough it managed to carry over the left field fence.

Nelson has played softball all but two months over the course of the last year, preparing well for a Bluejays roster that is packed with power up and down the lineup to go with a standout pitcher in senior Haley Buckley.

“I’m just focused on having fun and doing whatever I can to help my team,” Nelson said. “We’re a good solid team that works well with each other. We’re all pretty good at bringing leadership and keeping each other up.”

Nelson gives a lot of credit for her power surge to what she calls “The Buddy”, which she describes in the following way: “You’ve got a weight, you’ve got a rope and you wind it up.”

It has clearly paid dividends for Shepherd’s roster with extra- base punch coming from everywhere in the lineup. Bailey Brown also notched a home run in game one, with Nelson going back-to-back as the following batter.

Shepherd improved to 17-4 overall and 4-2 in the Tri-Valley Conference with the two victories over Alma.

Last Updated: 5/2/2016 9:54:57 PM EST