As a kid, Issy Hoyt spent most of her days learning the game, even though she didn’t realize it at the time.

Tagging along with her father, Steve, as he played competitive fastpitch softball around Indianapolis, the future home run queen of New Palestine High School watched, and often mimicked.

“She would go to my games and she would hit soft toss sometimes,” Steve Hoyt recalled. “But it was just that initially.”

Issy, like most, started out in the Little League circuit, first at Warren then New Palestine when the family moved 13 years ago.

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She played her first game in jeans, Hoyt laughs now while reminiscing.

Once she joined the Indy Diamond Chix at 12, however, the game became her passion.

“I wasn’t the best player when I was younger, and I didn’t really like that, so I worked hard and focused on it,” Issy said. “I gained confidence, and my parents (Steve and Kelli) are really awesome, building my confidence whether I’ve had a good or a bad game.”

Issy’s progression catapulted the next six years.

Her power-hitting prowess led to an all-time career record 26 home runs in four seasons for the Class 3A Dragons and 2016 Hancock County Softball Co-Player of the Year honors as voted upon by the coaches and Daily Reporter sports staff.

“The type of hitter she was, you could see that very easily from her freshman year on,” New Palestine head coach Ed Marcum said. “The power, though, she kind of progressively built as it went along.”

Hoyt cracked the varsity lineup as a freshman and she proved her worth immediately defensively at third base while hitting .488 with two home runs and 10 doubles. The next season, she carried a .427 batting average, jumped to six home runs and 41 RBI.

Her final numbers in 2015 nearly mirrored Hoyt’s prior development as she turned in a .511 average along with nine home runs, 15 doubles and 44 RBI.

“Up until 13 years old, she always hit the ball with contact, but she wasn’t a power hitter,” Steve Hoyt said. “Around then, she started working with Jenny Boyts.”

Honing her craft with Boyts, a former IUPUI catcher from 2004-08, Hoyt polished her swing and found the sweet spot.

“We would go out to the little league fields and have a home run derby,” Steve Hoyt said. “Once she hit the majority of them over, we moved up to the bigger diamond. Eventually, we worked up to the high school field, the 200-foot fence.”

Her first 200-foot round-tripper sailed over the wall during a live game with the Indy Diamond Chix when she was 13.

From there on, the tally ballooned quickly.

“I’ve lost track,” Issy said. “It was 55, and I lost count.”

Nine of those high school homers screamed out of the park this season as the Purdue recruit hit .478 with 12 doubles, 42 RBI and 35 runs scored.

Her seventh home run of the year against Delta on May 20 etched Hoyt’s name into the Dragons’ record book, marking her 24th to pass Audrey East as the all-time career leader.

“I kind of keep those records to myself and I didn’t tell her anything when she tied it (on May 19 vs. Lutheran),” Marcum said. “It was neat to see her break it on senior night.”

The homer capped a 2-for-3 day for Hoyt and helped secure the Dragons’ third straight Hoosier Heritage Conference title, which they shared with Shelbyville and Yorktown.

Hoyt tacked on a pair of long balls against Bishop Chatard in the New Palestine Sectional championship. The Dragons won 11-1 to clinch the program’s 11th sectional overall and first since 2010-11.

The team’s state finals ambition was derailed May 31 at regional against eventual state champion Lebanon, but Hoyt’s legacy was already cemented.

“More than anything, you could see the all around talented player she was,” Marcum said. “She was very good defensively, and pressure never really bothered her. It’s tough when you’re a freshman, and she stepped right in and has been consistent all four years.”

Hoyt was named as a unanimous All-HHC selection this year and earned ICGSA First Team All-State honors for 3A/4A. She became the 12th ICGSA All-Star for New Palestine in the past 13 seasons.

“It went by so fast. I feel like I was a freshman yesterday,” Hoyt said. “It was just amazing to see what I accomplished and I can’t wait to take it to college.”

Marcum has no doubt her success will continue — both as a player and a role model.

“She is part of the line of leaders that we’ve had here that the younger ones can look up to,” Marcum said. “We started up the bat girls for games, and she hit a home run one game, and the little bat girl was in awe.

“Issy tracked down the home run ball and gave it to her,” Marcum said. “I thought that was pretty cool.”

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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.