Perfect day at the plate

CARMEL — Issy Hoyt doesn’t care much for change.

Far from superstitious, the Purdue-bound power hitter isn’t necessarily obsessive, but she’s not afraid to admit her attachments either, and none stronger than with her Louisville Slugger.

As New Palestine’s all-time career softball home-run leader, it’s not difficult to understand her fondness for the 33-inch, 24-ounce Xeno. Through the past three years, she’s racked up 24 of her record 26 homers, thanks to her trusty bat.

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“They actually took it away from me in sectional and regional,” Hoyt remarked after the Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association’s North-South All-Star Softball doubleheader on Saturday. “I hit it on my cleats, so it had dents in it, but I really do get attached to my bat.”

As a South All-Star at the Cherry Tree Softball Complex in Carmel, Hoyt had no choice but to move on, hesitantly at first, with her new Xeno.

It was a perfect match.

Finishing 3-for-3 in the All-Star doubleheader, Hoyt was a perfect 2-for-2 in Game 1, swatting a single and a near game-tying double before capping the day with a sharp single up the middle.

“I started using this bat last weekend for travel ball, and after today, I think I like it,” Hoyt said.

The same could be said for the All-Star spotlight. Patrolling third base in her final high school game, Hoyt scored the first run of Game 1 for the South in the bottom of the third and flashed her defensive prowess throughout.

The North All-Stars won the first game 4-3 before the South All-Stars split the doubleheader with a 2-1 win in the finale.

“It was really amazing, humbling and awesome to be able to come out here and play with the best of Indiana,” Hoyt said. “It was a fun experience.”

The 12th ICGSA All-Star in New Palestine head coach Ed Marcum’s 13-year tenure, Hoyt almost punctuated her appearance with her forte.

“The double (in the bottom of the seventh) was almost the game-tying shot,” Marcum said. “I don’t know how tall that fence is out there, but she hit the top of it. It would have tied it up.”

The South led 3-0 in the first game until the North rallied with back-to-back two-run innings in the top of the sixth and seventh.

Hoyt’s 200-plus foot shot off the wall initiated a potential comeback, but the North left the Dragon stranded in scoring position to win.

“I thought for sure we were going to take that, but they came back and that’s just the game and the way these players are,” Hoyt said. “I’m really pumped about (my hitting today). Coming from last weekend in travel ball, I didn’t have my best weekend, so this is a confidence booster.”

This season, Hoyt’s confidence equated efficiency for the top-ranked Class 3A Dragons. Her 26 career home runs topped Audrey East’s former mark and Hoyt was named First Team All-Hoosier Heritage Conference by unanimous decision.

She also earned ICGSA First Team All-State recognition for Class 4A/3A.

As a senior, she hit .478, drove in 42 runs and matched her power numbers from 2015 with another nine homers this past spring for the HHC and sectional champion Dragons.

On Saturday, she upheld her accolades through her actions against the North All-Stars and 2016 Indiana Miss Softball Miranda Elish of Crown Point.

“It was fun, and I was happy for her,” Marcum said. “She had a great day. She saw three pitches, and I think she swung at the first pitch every time and went 3-for-3. That was cool.

“She can pretty much hit with any bat. That’s what I’ve figured out. That doesn’t matter much for her, I don’t think.”

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Rich Torres is sports editor at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at rtorres@greenfieldreporter.com or 317-477-3227.