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Younth showcases major talent at minor league game
Leah Hayes, 12, auditioned March 19 to sing during the Savannah Sand Gnats season opener in Grayson Stadium. She was picked and performed at the April 12 game. - photo by Photo provided.
Leah Hayes of Hinesville favored thousands of baseball fans during the Sand Gnats season opener game April 12.
And nerves didn’t get the better of her.
“I was not really nervous of the crowd, just trying to pay attention to my voice and make sure I did a good job,” Hayes said.
Officials from the minor league baseball team picked the local youth out of many other applicants from Savannah and the surrounding area.
And she obviously made quite impression.
“Leah had poise beyond her years,” said Christina Faiella, Sand Gnats promotion manager. “Not many are so calm while performing in front of almost 2,500 people.”  
“Looking up into the stands, it really didn’t seem like a lot of people,” Hayes said. “Once you heard the crowd clap, you could tell it was a lot of people, rooting you on, being there, hearing you.”
After singing the national anthem, Hayes also led the crowd in “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and “God Bless America” in the seventh inning.
“She sang beautifully and with great confidence,” Faiella said. “I would love to have her sing for us again this season.”
And what’s the pre-teen’s secret to wowing her audiences?
“It’s just a God-given gift,” Hayes said.
The seventh-grader said she has had some voice training from Linda Estes, chorus teacher at Snelson-Golden Middle School.
Her father, Richard Hayes also helps.
“He guides me, helps me, makes sure I do practice, because you can’t just sing without practicing,” the singer said of her father.
Seeing the crowd react to his daughter’s performances was a highlight for Richard Hayes. “To see everyone, something people are just so sincere and patriotic about, especially the time we live in now and her leading them – it was an awesome experience,” he said.
Besides singing, Leah Hayes met some of the players and mascot Nate the Gnat and watched the game.
“It was good to watch the game,” she said. “It was something new to me. I liked it.”
It was not her first public performance.
She won third place in a Fort Stewart’s Teen Idol and performed at the 2007 LibertyFest.
Hayes said she hopes to become a teacher, but will also definitely sing in the future.
She has been singing since about second grade and does a lot of singing at church.
Hayes is currently an honor student at Snelson-Golden Middle School and is on the track team, drama and chorus.
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