Skye Bolt certainly had it all clicking a year ago.
The sophomore slugger struck lightning in his Carolina freshman year debut.
***Listen to the story***
The Georgia native and son of a former college baseball player earned consensus freshman All-America honors by Baseball America, Perfect Game, NCBWA and Louisville Slugger after starting 54 games in the outfield and hitting .321 despite missing a month with a broken foot.
But maybe it all came too easy. The infamous sophomore slump hit hard in 2014. To date, Bolt checks in with a mere .256 batting average and has only swatted three home runs this season.
But the sophomore says he’s matured and is gaining perspective on the game of baseball and life through the ups and downs.
“It’s a game of inches and a game of mental mentality. Success obviously fuels confidence. It’s good to see the results a little bit. It’s one of those things you’re going to continue to battle throughout your whole career, whether it be professional or life. It’s a game that will take advantage of you. It’s certainly given me the better half of the stick the past month,” Bolt says.
Due to the disparity in the stat sheet, many have speculated Bolt has been carrying an injury throughout the season, but the sophomore isn’t making any excuses for his dip in performance.
“You can hold on to an injury. You can hold on to an out like that for as long as you want to. But the fact of the matter is, I was playing some of my best ball this past fall. Injury has nothing to do with it,” Bolt says.
Overall as a team, Bolt credited a case of complacency in both the younger and older guys when asked about the unusually high 25 defeats in the loss column – the most since way back in 2001.
“We had a really strong fall. I think it put some complacency in the minds of some of the young guys. Some of the older guys have been here and done it. Even they fell into the trap of thinking we refueled what we lost. We got a lot of talent, but bottom line is that you have to get out there and play,” Bolt says.
Coming into postseason play as an underdog is an unfamiliar position for the Diamond Heels, who are typically locks to host a regional at Boshamer Stadium this time of the year. Head Coach Mike Fox’s ballclub hasn’t hit the road for a regional since 2010. But Bolt insists his team remains confident. He sees things turning around at just the right time.
“You’re starting to see we’re playing our best ball. When you’re playing your best ball, you’re playing defense, you’re pitching, and you’re getting some decent run support, which we’ve lacked, anything is possible with this team. That’s the way it should be with this program,” Bolt says.
The Carolina winning pedigree and tradition can’t hurt this young group of talent in the crucible of tournament play either. Omaha is seemingly a yearly reunion for this program. But will the belief be there? Bolt thinks so.
“If we do get in one of those situations, the history of Carolina baseball is that we’re going to come back just as we did against Maryland [in ACC Tournament]. We’re going to continue to play. They have that stepping stone as an example. It’s up to the younger guys. The older guys believe in what we can do at any moment,” Bolt says.
The irony of it all is Bolt is one of those “underclassmen” he talks about. But he has a trip to Omaha under his belt. The question remains, will this next group of Tar Heel freshmen be getting theirs?