By DAVE LINK
Dylan Loy has always been a Tennessee baseball fan, and his love for the diamond Vols skyrocketed in the spring.
The left-handed pitcher for Pigeon Forge committed to Tennessee in May of 2020 as a freshman.
And just after he finished his sophomore season this past spring, Loy — the 5Star Preps Pitcher of the Year — then watched his dream school make a run to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.
“Tennessee’s always been my dream school,” Loy said Thursday, July 8. “Once I got (the offer), I didn’t hesitate.”
As the Vols won the NCAA Knoxville Regional on June 6 and the Knoxville Super Regional over LSU on June 13, Loy was reminded what the Tennessee coaches had been saying.
“I was just ecstatic,” Loy said. “All the coaches were saying they wanted to turn the program around and everything, and just to see them go and actually do what they’ve done this year was awesome to watch and be a part of.”
There was concern among Vols’ fans and recruits, however, when Tennessee coach Tony Vitello was mentioned for soon-to-be coaching vacancies during the NCAA tournament, with LSU being the hottest potential destination for the Vols’ coach.
Loy was relieved when LSU hired former Washington assistant Jason Kelly as its coach, and it soon became apparent Tennessee would do all it could to keep Vitello.
“It was bad news whenever you hear a head coach you really like might move,” Loy said. “But to find out he was staying, I think I can speak for all the other people that committed with me, it was a big lift off the shoulders.”
Loy and Vitello’s other commitments in the class can expect to be playing in a vastly improved Lindsey Nelson Stadium by the time they suit up for the 2024 season at Tennessee.
One of Vitello’s biggest requests in contract negotiations with UT was a revamping of the Vols’ on-campus stadium.
Sounds good to Loy.
“It’d be awesome,” he said. “The stadium’s nice already. Just to improve it would be super crazy.”
Loy has plenty of baseball to be played before going to UT, and he’s coming off a breakout opening season at Pigeon Forge.
After his freshman year was cancelled due to the pandemic, Loy (13-1, 0.42 ERA, 164 strikeouts) was the Tigers’ ace pitcher and starting first baseman as they advanced to the Class AA state championship round.
Loy’s only appearance at state in Murfreesboro was in the Tigers’ second game against Nolensville when he fired a five-hitter, struck out 10 and walked one in a 4-0 victory. He out-dueled Vanderbilt pitching commitment Ethan McElvain, a sophomore lefty from Nolensville.
Loy said he had no idea he’d have such an impactful year, which included the Class AA Mr. Baseball award.
“To be honest with you, not really because it’s technically my first high school season,” he said. “I was kind of new to all the high school stuff. I just kind of went in there like it was travel ball and felt good. The only difference was the teammates in travel ball, you’ll pick some up, you’ll lose some, but there in high school, it’s a family. You’re working for each other.”
Now, Loy is playing for a travel team based out of Warner Robins, Georgia, called Five Star National Burress (coached by Andy Burress).
He expects to play at least 25 to 30 games with the travel team this summer.
“It’s going good,” Loy said last Thursday (July 9) while traveling with the team to Cary, North Carolina for a tournament. “The team’s been playing well. We’ve all been throwing good, hitting good. We’ve been doing pretty well.”
Loy expects the same at Pigeon Forge next spring.
“I feel like next year might be up there with a couple of the greats in school history,” he said.