NCAA Softball News

Sky High Just In Time

Sky High Just In Time

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – In case anyone had forgotten, Skylar Wallace was a first-team All-America shortstop and the 2023 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year after leading the nation in slugging percentage, as well as placing among the league’s top three in average, on-base percentage, runs, triples, home runs, total bases, walks and stolen bases. 
Simply put, her offensive numbers were positively staggering. 
Roughly two-thirds of the way through the 2024 seasons, Wallace was one pace for a fifth-year season every bit as torrid as last year. She was hitting a nation-best .475 and the Gators were following suit in sticking around the top 10 in the rankings. 
Then came a 10-game run that were equal parts unfathomable and inexplicable, with Wallace going 2-for-31 at the plate – that’s .065 – and her averaging plummeting more than 100 points. 
“There were times at night I was just crying in bed,” she said.
Wallace is sleeping better these days, which means so is UF coach Tim Walton and the rest of the Gators. To say Wallace fixed whatever was ailing her at the plate and is out of her slump would be like saying the universe is somewhat vast. 
When fourth-seeded Florida (46-12), winner of eight straight, opens NCAA Tournament play Friday at noon against Florida Gulf Coast (37-19) at Pressly Stadium, Wallace will be parked in her customary No. 3 hole and batting a robust .399, having rocketed her average up 31 points over the previous 10 games. How? By going 16-for-34, that’s how, including a 7-for-9 rampage through the SEC Tournament last weekend when she helped lead UF to its first championship in the event in five years by setting tourney records for homers (3) and RBI (9) on the way to Most Outstanding Player honors. 
It would appear Wallace is back … with a vengeance.
“I never felt like we wouldn’t get there,” Walton said. “I just never felt it would take as long as it did.”

Skylar Wallace (center) touches home plate after one of her three homers in last weekend’s SEC Tournament at Auburn.

In games involving a bat and ball, such things can happen. When they happen to elite players, they not only stand out, but also can take a toll on that player’s psyche. That’s what happened with Wallace, who had a three-game stretch (two against LSU, one in an ugly midweek loss to South Florida) when she went 0-for-10. 
After that, she started pressing and uncharacteristically chasing pitches out of the zone….

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