Last season after a March 30 doubleheader with North Dakota State and BYU, junior shortstop Jade Gortarez said that sophomore second baseman Bella Loomis would be one of the faces of Arizona State’s softball program in the next few years.
“Absolutely,” said Gortarez on if she still stood by her statement. “I think it’s your first true season at a DI [Division I] softball level, it’s hard for anybody. She’s settling in right now a little bit, we’re going over a lot of stuff at practice, new stuff, old stuff, just getting getting back to basics with her.”
Eleven months removed from Gortarez’s statement, not only has Loomis now solidified herself as ASU’s starting second baseman, it’s also the first time she’d heard what her teammate had to say about her.
“It makes me feel really good,” Loomis reacted. “Jade is someone I really look up to, so it’s been nice to play with her full time now. We’ve both tried to be leaders out there and we work together as much as we can.”
Head coach Trisha Ford also believes that Loomis is starting to show glimpses of the full potential she can reach:
“Bella, she’s not a vocal kid, but she works her tail off. She’s a huge team player, she’s local, there’s a lot of things kind of working toward that,” Ford said. “She’s not that vocal leader, actually neither is Jade, they both just enjoy playing the game and enjoy coming out here day after day, they talk the game nonstop. Bella, I have asked her to take a little bit more of a leadership role this year and I think she’s done a great job. I would still challenge her a bit more.
“I don’t know if they come better than Bella. She’s in our Barrett, [the] Honors college, she’s a starter, she can play every position on the field pretty much. She has taken every role we’ve given her and ran with it.”
Why is there belief that Loomis can be one of the best Sun Devils? Because she has all the tools.
Loomis’ offensive numbers from her freshman year don’t stand out, a .215 average and 10 RBIs don’t scream ‘potential face of the program.’ Nevertheless, Loomis did play in 43 games last year, much in part to her defensive abilities. It didn’t matter the position, second, third base or shortstop, Loomis has the capabilities to make the highlight defensive play like she did in ASU’s opening night game against Missouri in the video below:
M2| Sun Devils come back to hold the tigers off the board in the top of the second. @jade_g_15 and @bellaloomis did their part with this AWESOME play to get the second out! pic.twitter.com/Oscb6bBIde— Sun Devil Softball (@ASUSoftball) February 9, 2019
One tool that makes Loomis an excellent defender is how fast she transfers from fielding to throwing. A small blink while watching her field a groundball is all it takes to miss the transfer from ball in to ball out.
“Since I was little it was always something I’ve been known for. Been working on that everyday, that’s just who I am and something I take pride in,” Loomis said.
Loomis’ skills as a leader and a teammate were described by her coach, but there is another Sun Devil, who knows Loomis better than Ford. Freshman right-handed pitcher Abby Andersen is now in her fourth year as Loomis’ teammate after the two spent three years and won two Arizona state championships together at Chandler’s Hamilton High School.
“She’s the definition of a teammate,” Andersen said. “She’s caring, and you know she has your back, especially as a pitcher having her behind me, we have that trust where I know she’s always got me.”
In the box, Loomis’ numbers are starting to head in the positive direction. Through two weeks of the 2019 campaign, the second baseman holds a .273 average with six RBIs. She also already has eight base on balls, nearing her 2018 number of 14.
In the Littlewood Classic, she also showed the power she holds as well. Late in the game against Florida, Loomis filed to deep right field, with another two feet or so she would’ve homered. Two days later against Utah State, however, the ball didn’t need any extra feet off her bat. Loomis blasted a three-run shot over the Arizona State lettering in center field for her first collegiate home run.
“It felt so good,” Loomis said with a smile on her face. “So many people were telling me, ‘you almost hit it over,’ but it felt really good.”
So, what are the next steps for the one Ford calls the ‘silent assassin:’
“Be more of a leader out there and being consistent with everything,” Loomis said.
“I would like to see her develop a bit in the box. Defensively she’s good, we’ve had a couple of hiccups, but those are things I don’t anticipate being a regular occurrence,” Ford said. “But in the batters box, I know her and [hitting] coach [Jeff] Harger been working really hard. She’s modified her stance a little bit. For Bella, making sure she can do that short game, the bunt is going to be big for her and staying within her strike zone.”
If Loomis continues to progress toward where her potential can take her, this won’t be the last headline she makes for Sun Devil softball.