Loya garners All-American accolades


Mark Capapas

Bella Loya preparing for a pitch at Eichelberger Field on April 3.

By Gabby Hajduk, Staff Writer

After a standout freshman campaign, sophomore Bella Loya continued to have success in her second season for Illinois softball. Loya’s talents were recognized nationwide as the catcher was named to Softball America’s Third-Team All-America.

Loya was a leader at the plate for the Illini this year, ranking second with a .366 batting average. The Mission Viejo, California, native showed improvement this season as Loya hit .362 last season.

The sophomore led the Illini with 48 RBIs, 12 home runs and 27 walks while also recording 63 hits and 28 runs. Loya also ranked second with a .645 slugging percentage and third with 12 doubles.

Loya not only was a force at the plate but dominated behind the plate. Loya had 144 putouts and 13 assists from the catcher position and did not commit an error all season.

As a freshman, Loya was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team, but this season made the jump and was selected to the Big Ten All-First Team. Loya is also a National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Midwest Region selection.

Loya hit her peak in the middle of the season, holding a hitting percentage of above .400 from March 31-April 30, a 21-game span. The powerhouse hitter had her best outing against South Alabama, going 4-for-4 from the plate with four RBI. Loya hit a double and a home run in the contest, scoring two runs of her own.

Going into her third collegiate season, Loya will look to lead the Illini at the plate as Illinois just graduated their top-hitter, Kiana Sherlund.


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