By Rachael Genson
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Brandon Loy has made quite a name for himself as “the everyday man” on the University of Texas Baseball team. The sophomore has started all 104 games of his college career, a rare feat on the current roster.
As a freshman, he was the only Longhorn to start all 67 games in 2009. This season, he is one of just five players to start every game.
A native of Rowlett, Texas, a city with a population smaller than UT’s student body, the young shortstop had little idea what to expect as an entering freshman.
“I definitely didn’t expect to come in and play every game during my freshman year,” Loy said. “Looking back on it, it was a wonderful experience.”
He appeared in every game, including the College World Series (CWS). During the postseason, Loy continued to show his outstanding skill. In the first game of the CWS, Loy produced the game-winning, walk-off walk against Southern Mississippi. The shortstop helped seal the Horns’ come-from-behind 10-6 win over Arizona State with a two-run single in the eighth inning of UT’s second CWS game.
The Longhorns might not have been in the College World Series had it not been for Loy’s heroics in the Regionals. With the Horns trailing Army 10-7 in the ninth inning, he blasted a double off the wall in left centerfield to drive in three runs, setting up Preston Clark’s epic walk-off grand slam and sending Texas to the Super Regional.
Postseason success is not new to the Loy family. Brandon’s father, Darren Loy, was a member of UT’s 1983 national championship team, and Loy could be following in his father’s footsteps.
“My dad always told about what a tremendous experience it was to play in Omaha and win the national championship,” Loy said. “Playing at Rosenblatt was everything he said it would be. But we came one game short of experiencing the thrill of a national championship. It’s something we’re striving to do this season.
After his first season with the Longhorns, Loy picked up numerous accolades. He was earned All-Big 12 Honorable Mention as he helped Texas win a regular season title. In the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship, Loy went 9-of-14 (.643) at the plate with three runs, one triple, six RBI, one sac bunt and one stolen base to earn tournament Most Outstanding Player recognition.
Loy posted solid numbers at the plate as a freshman, hitting .288 with 34 runs, eight doubles, 30 RBI and nine stolen bases. He also led the nation with 25 sacrifice bunts. However, what put him in the lineup every game was his defensive savvy.
“I would rank him as one of the best, if not the best defensive shortstops in the country,” Head Coach Augie Garrido said. “He plays at such a high level and what he and [second baseman] Jordan [Etier] are doing defensively up the middle is extraordinary. Their defensive play and ability to turn double plays has helped us win at least four or five games this year.”
Loy’s defensive play-making has become so expected that when a ball trickled through his legs in UT’s series opening win against Texas A&M, it brought a collective gasp of surprise from the crowd. Such occurrences are rare for Loy, but he doesn’t dwell on them. Instead, he responded by making a handful of highlight reel-plays the following day en route to recording a season-high eight putouts against the Aggies. It is that fine defensive play and resilience that keeps Loy in the starting lineup.
“Playing every game really doesn’t cross my mind that much,” Loy said. “I try to take the same approach every day. I go out, play hard and do whatever needs to be done to help my team win.”
Loy quickly impressed his coaches with his skill and innate knowledge of the game. Student Assistant Coach and former teammate Travis Tucker emphasized the level of maturity that Loy brings to the team.
“Brandon played at a level that I wasn’t expecting for his age,” Tucker said. “He knows the game of baseball, probably better than a lot of our seniors.”
Tucker also contends that Loy’s affable nature and inspiring performance will make him an excellent team leader this year, even as a sophomore.
“I keep telling him that the guys will listen to him because he is such a bold figure on the field,” Tucker said. “Once he is better able to project what he wants to say, the guys are really going to follow him as a leader.”
Loy’s consistent ability to play strong baseball has helped him become a leader and earn the respect of his teammates.
“He’s a great teammate,” Etier said. “I’ve learned a lot from the way he plays the game, and he always keeps us focused. He’s done a great job of leading our infield.”
Despite what others say, Loy is shy when it comes to calling himself the team leader.
“I don’t know that I would call myself the leader. I’m just one of the guys who comes to the field every day to try and outwork the other teams,” Loy said.
Loy is working to make leadership a part of his future. In a meeting with Coach Garrido following Texas’ 3-2 loss to Oral Roberts, Loy mentioned his desire to be the guy that his teammates can come to for help. The Longhorns are currently on a 12-game win streak.
“I’ve been trying to put myself out there and it’s been working pretty well,” Loy said.
This season, Loy is hitting .254 with 27 runs, seven doubles, one triple, 17 RBI and nine stolen bases. Defensively, he owns a league-best .972 fielding percentage for shortstops.
With the Longhorns atop the Big 12 standings with a 13-2 mark, there is no reason to think Loy won’t repeat his feat of starting every game and possibly take the next step in following his father’s steps as a national champion.