Less thought, more production for Fontana

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Nolan Fontana’s new approach of less thinking has resulted in more offensive production.

Florida’s junior shortstop has been pounding the baseball in his last seven games, hitting .542 (13 for 24) and driving in seven runs, since he quit being so picky about which pitches he chose to try and hit. He’s no longer over-analyzing every at-bat and has simplified his approach to: See good pitch, hit good pitch.

"I guess sometimes I was in those modes where I’m being too patient and being too picky," Fontana said as the top-ranked Gators (29-8, 9-6 Southeastern Conference) prepared to play host to Georgia (23-15, 7-8) for a three-game series beginning Friday. "He [coach Kevin O’Sullivan] has talked to me about it, and what I’m trying to do lately is focus on seeing the ball well and hitting it."

That’s exactly what he’s doing. Fontana has had at least two hits in five of his last seven games, including a 4-for-4 performance against Tennessee on April 13. He followed up with four walks the following day against the Vols.

"Instead of the ball looking like it does, it looks a little bigger -- like a grapefruit," he said. "Sometimes even softball size.

"You just try not to think, and I feel that the more I think as a hitter the more trouble I get into instead of just seeing the ball and hitting the ball."

Fontana’s surge was sparked in part by a move down in the lineup. He had been the Gators’ leadoff batter the first 26 games but was hitting .274 in that span. In the next nine games, he hit fifth, sixth or seventh in the lineup and batted .500 (16-for-32), before returning to the leadoff spot for UF’s last two games.

He has raised his batting average more than 50 points since the move and he’s now hitting .326, which trails only catcher Mike Zunino (.346).

"Wherever they need me is where I’m going to bat," Fontana said. "I don’t want to question their authority at all."

That would be thinking too much -- and he doesn’t want to do that any more.