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Loya powers past opponents at Nationals

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Some kids have it, some don’t. If Issac Loya continues to progress, there’s a good chance he will be in the major leagues like his idol Alex Bregman. Loya just won the home run derby at the Lions Hondo Little League closing ceremonies last night. The 12-year-old is having quite a baseball season.

Not only is he dominating the competition in little league, but he has helped lead his travel team the Aces to the USSSA state championship over the weekend. To go with that, Loya just competed in the Hit, Pitch and Run at Chase Field home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. In Arizona, Loya competed in and won the Regional championship. He is waiting until July 2 to see if he will become a National Finalist. The results will be posted on Major League Baseball’s website.

“He got to experience being on the Arizona Diamondback field,” his mother Eliza Loya said. “He got to meet a couple of baseball players. I have encouraged him to do sports ever since he was little. He has been here at Lions Hondo since he’s been little.”

Just like his idol Bregman, he wants to attend Albuquerque Academy and then take his talents to the University of Florida. Loya hopes to develop and become good enough to make it to the major leagues.

His other favorite player is Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles. When asked why he felt that Machado’s game was smooth Loya said he liked the way he hit with power and how he fielded his position.

“I like Machado,” Loya said, “because he plays shortstop and he’s clean.”

Loya has had his way with the competition in the Hit, Pitch and Run. To get to Nationals, he had to defeat all comers in his age bracket, he won at the local level, state and regionals. With a coolness that belies his age, Loya manages to keep his cool and not let the competition psych him out when they bat ahead of him. In Arizona, Loya beat two other athletes.

He has run a 5.5 to first base, hit the ball 360 feet, and thrown the ball 260 feet. He also credits his work ethic for being so good at the events he has competed in. Loya has a dedicated regimen of hitting off the tee with a whiffle ball, and he will take batting practice. After that, he will go to the field and field ground balls and catch fly balls.

“All of my coaches,” Loya said, “ and my uncle, Eliazar Loya, Jr., have helped me stay straight.” When I’m hitting the ball all I think about is making solid contact. When I’m in batting practice I make sure I go through the process and that I have my technique down.”

Loya wants to make sure that he hits the ball straight when the ball comes off of his bat. When he plays in games he does not to look to hit home runs, Loya wants to be a complete player and help his team get on base any way he can. That to him is a successful at-bat.

“Whenever we were playing catch,” Eliazar said. “I noticed that if he missed the ball I would throw it back at him harder. I started noticing that he threw the ball back harder to me sometimes. I thought to myself that he was going to be special and that was when he was seven years old. “

One of his pre-competition rituals is to listen to music. One of his favorite artists is Drake. Another ritual is for him to take batting practice. There have been times when he has hit the ball poorly in batting practice and thought he would be horrible in the games only to have some of his best at-bats.

Loya got involved in Hit, Pitch and Run because his mother, Eliza, encouraged him to participate. Everyone on his travel team, the Aces, everyone was trying out for Hit, Pitch and Run. Through the competition, Loya’s confidence has grown by being able to compete against the best and to win.

“It’s a big deal,” Eliza said. “ For him to compete at that level and to be only 12 years old that’s something big. “I’m 30 and I’ve never had an experience like that. A lot of coaches have worked with him and gotten him to where he is at now.”