Panama City, FL--Now to college ball and if you've been to college game, be it Panhandle Conference or a game at FSU or elsewhere, you've probably noticed a different sound at the ballpark this season.
That's because college teams were forced to change the kind of bats they use, and that, as Mark Vaughn tells us, is making a big difference in power hitting and runs scored.
¶The era of the long ball in college and junior college baseball has seemingly come to an end. *nats* College baseball have enacted new standards on non-wood bats and the result is a drastic dip in home runs.
Gulf Coast Head Coach
¶"The ball just doesn't quite carry as good. It comes off the bat probably about the same, so you're still getting your good amount of singles, maybe even doubles."
The bats look the same, and they feel pretty much the same, but what happens when they connect with a baseball is alot different.
All non wood bats must now meet the Bat-Ball Coefficient Of Restitution, or BBCOR protocol, it limits the "trampoline effect," making the bat perform more like a wooden bat.
Gulf Coast 2nd Baseman
¶"It really is a game changer for sure. I mean you can still get big numbers and stuff like that but usually you know after compared to last year, we scored a lot of runs last year, and now it's a lot of 5, 6 run games."
Home Runs helped Gulf Coast win a conference championship last year*nats* the Dores hit a school record 111 home runs in 53 games. *nats* This year they have just 20 Home runs through 39.
But even with the change in offensive numbers it's still good news to coaches.
Chipola Head Coach
¶"For me I think it makes it more of a pure game. You have to be able to bunt, be able to hit and run. Pitchers are able to get right at people a little more, pitch with the fastball a little bit more."
"You have to go back to playing the game of baseball, do some things to generate offense. Which really is what the game of baseball is supposed to be. When the game was set up, they put those fences a certain distance because that was supposed to be hard to hit it over it."
The NCAA enacted these stricter regulations to cut down on guady numbers, but it's also about safety.
Gulf Coast Pitcher
¶"You can actually see it sometimes usually, when it comes off the bat. Used to when one would come by your head you wouldn't know it until it was past you, you didn't have any time to react, or flinch or anything and that's obviously dangerous to pitchers."
The dip in home runs can't just be attributed to the change in bats, but it is partly responsible. Last year Chipola had 70 home runs in 52 games, for an average per game of 1.3. This year through 41 games they had just 21, that's an average of 0.5 per game. Last season Florida hit 84 home runs in 64 games. That's an average of 1.3 per game. This season they had 21 through 30 games, down to 0.7 per game. FSU hit 86 homers in 68 games, an average of 1.2 per game. This year they had 28 in 26 games, for an average of 0.9 per game. More change is on the horizon for baseball, next year high school bats will also have to meet the BBCOR standard.