Best in the league: Florida softball's Skylar Wallace named SEC Player of the Year

Ainslie Lee
The Gainesville Sun

All season long, former Florida Gators first baseman and 2018's SEC Softball Player of the Year Amanda Lorenz has been lobbying for a certain UF player to follow in her footsteps and win the conference's most prestigious award.

"Has the SEC announced Skylar as Player of the Week yet? Just throw in the POY announcement as well," Lorenz tweeted on April 18.

Evidently, Lorenz has an eye for talent.

Just more than three weeks after that tweet, the SEC announced its softball awards. At the top of the list was Florida shortstop Skylar Wallace, who was named the conference's Player of the Year Friday morning just one hour before her and the Gators were set to take on Tennessee in the SEC Tournament quarterfinal.

With Friday morning's announcement, Wallace became the seventh Florida softball player in program history to win the conference's highest honor.

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Wallace cemented herself in the conversation for the award on April 14 as she hit a career-best three home runs to help the Gators beat the 12th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs 13-4 in six innings. Those trio of home runs brought her season total to 12.

Now, less than one month later, Wallace boasts 19 home runs − a mark that puts her third in the SEC behind Tennessee's Kiki Milloy (21) and Arkansas' Rylin Hedgecock (20).

Meanwhile, Wallace tops the league in several other categories such as batting average (.463), slugging percentage (1.052), triples (8) and total bases (141).

After graduating from Etowah High School just north of Atlanta, Wallace got her college start at Alabama and made the All-SEC freshman team in 2019. Wallace decided to transfer to Florida after her sophomore season, but had to sit out 2021 due to inner-conference transfer rules.

Since suiting up in the Orange and Blue last season, Wallace has been a staple for the Gators both in the middle infield and lineup.

On May 3, Wallace was also named a Top 10 finalist for USA Softball's Collegiate Player of the Year Award.

Three other Gators land on All-SEC teams

Of course, in addition to being named Player of the Year, Wallace landed on the All-SEC First Team alongside teammate Charla Echols, who was named a first-teamer for the second consecutive season.

Echols, who also hails from just outside the Atlanta area, is the SEC's leader in RBIs having tallied 63 as of May 12. Defensively, Echols is hard to get by at third base, which also secured her a spot on the All-SEC Defensive Team.

Sophomores Kendra Falby and Reagan Walsh were named second-teamers Friday, representing a repeat for Falby and the first postseason SEC honor for Walsh.