Current Date: Fri, 07 Mar 2014 22:46:52 -0500
Skye Bolt had a tough decision to make last summer coming out of Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Atlanta — go pro or go to college.
Fortunately for the North Carolina baseball team, he chose the latter, and he said his choice came down to one word — family.
“I had the opportunity to go,” Bolt said, “But the family here with coach Fox, I didn’t find it anywhere else. I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys. That’s what drew me here.”
Not only did Bolt have an opportunity to go, but he had a chance to go fairly high in the Major League Baseball first-year player draft. Ranked as the No. 39 high school prospect by Baseball America for the 2012 draft, Bolt turned down a lot of money to enroll at North Carolina.
Now that he’s here, members of that baseball family who persuaded the six-foot-two, sweet-swinging outfielder to come from his hometown of Woodstock, Ga., to Chapel Hill couldn’t be happier about what he brings to the team.
“I think he’s a threat at the plate in a lot of ways: He can bunt, he can run, and he certainly has shown some power for us,” assistant coach Scott Jackson said.
Bolt’s budding power was unleashed Tuesday afternoon in the second game of UNC’s inter-squad Fall World Series. Bolt turned on a 1-2 delivery from fellow freshman Trent Thornton and roped the ball over the right field fence for his first home run in Boshamer Stadium.
“I saw the pitch, recognized it, and happened to get my hands through the zone,” Bolt recalled. “Put the barrel on it and got some good backspin on it, so it was a good feeling.”
Bolt’s most valuable asset, other than his memorable name, is his speed.
“Stealing bases is no problem,” Bolt said humbly.
His speed was on display throughout Tuesday’s game, swiftly tracking down fly balls in center field and fearlessly running the base-paths — even to a fault — as he was gunned out trying to stretch a single into a highlight-reel double in the first inning.
When asked which freshman has impressed the most this fall, sophomore pitcher Benton Moss didn’t hesitate.
“I think you’re looking at him right there,” Moss said, motioning toward Bolt. “He’s been able to put the bat on the ball really well, square balls up — no other freshmen have been able to do it.”
If Bolt continues to impress his teammates and coaches, there is little doubt he will be a factor for the Tar Heels when the games start to matter. But for now, he is just taking it all in.
“Playing here has been a dream, its been a blessing, its been surreal,” Bolt said. “I’m just really looking forward to the season.”
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