Florida's Skylar Wallace Is In A League Of Her Own
Skylar Wallace’s collegiate destiny came to her one night during a dream. Deciding where to take her career after leaving the University of Alabama had been weighing on her, until her late grandmother appeared in her slumber with an important message.
“It came down to Florida and OSU,” Wallace said. “It was weird because I had a dream, and (my grandma) had shown up in it and was talking to me and told me Florida was a place I needed to go and that was a place I was going to grow. When I had that dream, I just knew that was where I needed to go and it was going to work out in my favor. I haven’t looked back since.”
Now, an undeniably important aspect of Florida’s lineup, Wallace is piling up the accolades left and right, and her decision to come to Florida and join head coach Tim Walton's squad has certainly paid off.
With 18 home runs thus far this year, Wallace is tied for the third-best mark in the SEC. She is in fourth place in RBIs with 54, and in eighth place in the NCAA with a batting average of .455.
To Wallace, she sees hitting as a work of art that constantly needs to be tweaked. When it comes to her success at the plate, finding her tempo during practice is really what makes her most prepared to shine during games.
“I do a couple of tee drills, front toss and sync up my swing, (getting) my hands and legs together,” Wallace said. “Being really in-tempo during practice is important, and that’s going to lead to a lot more success on the field. Hitting is a challenge, it truly is a work of art. It is not easy, but if you practice the way you play, it will translate onto the field.”
And the speed on Wallace pairs perfectly with her ability to always get on base. Last season she set Florida’s program record with 52 stolen bases, and this season has been similar, as she has 28 stolen bases on 29 attempts. Aside from doing agility work in the weight room, her tactic is to be powerful in her first three steps on the base path.
“I have always been able to naturally run fast, but running with a technique can even (improve) someone who has a lower speed,” Wallace said. “When I am running bases, I always talk about my first speed, step speed, which is really critical to me. You can be really explosive and powerful in your first three steps. It makes a huge difference, rather than just coming off the bag slowly or turning my hips.”
Despite sitting out a season due to an SEC transfer rule, making her a redshirt junior now, that time on the bench became beneficial for Wallace. She was able to take on a different role as a leader and learn how to better communicate with her teammates.
“It was not easy to do, I won't even lie about that,” Wallace said. “To sit there, and do everything that everyone else is doing, except when it comes to putting all that work together, I couldn’t do that. I really had to learn how to be a leader and learn a different role of being a good team player and a good cheerleader in the dugout to motivate my team.”
That journey just made a better shortstop out of Wallace, as she has become the main point of contact in Florida's infield. She takes into consideration what her teammates need to hear throughout the game and is always giving them a boost.
“There is so much to communicate about, constantly being on my toes and preparing for the play that is about to happen,” Wallace said. “I feel like shortstop is the most important spot on the field, and there are a lot of people looking for a leader on the field.”
And while Wallace certainly makes the game look easy, she has her off days just like any other player. If you asked her a couple years ago how she deals with a bad game or a bad day at the plate, she would’ve told you she just shuts down. Now, with her years of college softball experience, Wallace passes off advice to other hitters who are struggling.
“You cannot be perfect every single day,” Wallace said. “You are never going to go 4-for-4 every single game. That is just unrealistic. Every at-bat, you have to go in 0-for-0. Whatever happened in the past is done with and you can’t change that. Making in-game adjustments and moving on from pitch-to-pitch is important. Keeping it simple is the key for me. I don’t like to overthink anything.”