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Sunday, February 20, 2011

New bats are expected to set new standard in college baseball

I won't be out at Plainsman Park for the final game of opening weekend for Auburn against UAB. But I did write this lengthy Sunday article for our paper about the new bat standard for the NCAA this year and how it might radically alter the game. Here's how it starts:
AUBURN, Ala. -- The high, deep fly ball looked good off the bat of Casey McElroy, soaring toward left-center field as the Auburn crowd stood in anticipation of the season’s first home run.

Not with college baseball’s less-lively bats. Instead, the ball caromed high off the wall, leaving the Tigers third baseman with a double.

“I think it would have been out (last year),” McElroy said. “I don’t know how far. I knew right when I hit it I had to run.”

Expect more of that this season after the NCAA, concerned by skyrocketing offensive numbers and the injury risk from exceedingly high speeds of batted balls, made its biggest changes to bat standards in more than a decade.

The new bats, which lack the distinctive “ping” associated with the college game, conform to standards similar to the wood bats used in professional baseball, with a smaller sweet spot, less of the “trampoline effect” common in old composite bats and, as a result, decreased speeds.

Coaches and players anticipate a radical change to the game, with fewer slugfests that pass the four-hour mark, an across-the-board drop in home runs and scoring and, as baseball purists love to hear, an added emphasis on pitching and defense.

“I think it’s probably closer to what baseball should be,” Georgia coach David Perno said.
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War Eagle AC-47 said...

I can see Little League up through high school using metal bats because the kids don't have the arm strength/whip speed to generate enough force for home runs.

But college kids have been in the weight room, and are in fact much bigger on average than they were years ago. The stats don't lie.

I've always thought college ball should use wooden bats. I've never liked metal bats anyway. We played with wooden bats in Little League and all through high school. Scores were made, teams won and lost.

I guess it was the "save a tree" mentality, or a love of home runs. The crack of the wooden bat is musical. And it sounds important. The "ping" not so much.

Anonymous said...

Good article but I hate to see such a drastic change. Baseball was the last refuge for the 5'-8 160 pound athletic guy. College baseball has never been more popular and I can't see the advantage of tinkering with the game to this extent. It's like going back to the old rugby shaped football because too many guys are passing for 3000 yards per season.