College baseball teams will be
playing with less resilient bats this season and East Carolina
coach Billy Godwin says the game will be purer as a result.
"The bat this year is going to
perform closer to wood," Godwin said.
In response to an outbreak of
offense in the 1998 College World Series in which Southern Cal
outscored Arizona State 21-14 in the championship and 62 home
runs were hit in 14 games, the NCAA moved toward a testing
standard that measured ball exit speed from bats.
The ball exit speed ratio (BESR)
certification was supposed to limit baseballs to 97 miles per
hour off the bat, the same speed as the best wooden bats. One
problem is that testing specifications were based on a 70 mph
pitch, a 34-inch, 31-ounce bat and a swing speed on 66 mph. The
college game is significantly faster and the metal bats that met
the BESR were much more responsive than wood.
At issue with the BESR is what
is called the trampoline effect — the ability of the metal bats
to compress on impact with a baseball and launch the ball as the
metal returns to its original shape.
The new NCAA regulations deal
with ball-bat coefficient of restitution (BBCOR). Exit speed of
the ball under minimized conditions is no longer the determining
factor. The allowable compression of the metal bat has been
reduced to make the new bats perform with only slightly more
energy transfer on impact than the top grade wooden bat.
Bats that meet the new
specifications carry a BBCOR label. Easton is East Carolina's
bat supplier and sent the Pirates some sample bats in the fall.
Godwin said ECU used those sample bats from Easton as wel as
wood bats during offseason workouts in their efforts to adapt to
the new regulations.
Easton has been refining its
product since the Pirates received their samples.
"We just got our full shipment
like a week ago," Godwin said. "From what they sent us in the
fall to what they sent us last week is a better bat. I think all
of the bat companies were sort of scrambling with the bat
regulations to make the best possible modifications."
Have as many balls been leaving
Clark-LeClair Stadium in preseason practice?
"Oh no," Godwin said. "Oh no."
Some college coaches have
expressed their dislike for the changes in the bat regulations
because they perceive them as a threat to the explosive offense
that they feel has boosted the popularity of baseball on the
college level. Godwin, a former pitcher, is not among those.
"I like it," said the Pirates
coach. "I welcome it. I think we're going to get a purer form of
baseball. I don't think you're going to get beat by the
145-pound second baseman who gets fooled on a pitch and hits
something off his front foot over the fence."
Memphis' Tyler Huelsing
ended ECU's season in
the C-USA Tournament last season with a walkoff homer. Godwin
said that might not have been any different with a BBCOR bat.
"That was hit pretty good,"
Godwin said. "There's a good shot he could have."
But things will be different in
terms of power production.
"Guys who have strength are
still going to hit home runs," Godwin said. "Guys who have an
aluminum bat swing, that's a term we use as coaches — the guys
who hit seven, eight or nine home runs — they may be down to one
or two. Kyle Roller would probably be close to getting his same
"I'm just guessing, but it
could be this drastic, the team that I had two years ago that
hit 108 (homers) in 2009, they might hit 60 with this bat."
New site, new format for
The format for the Conference
USA baseball tournament is changing again. The field will expand
from six to eight teams.
"We cross-bracketed last year
and there was some feeling that playing a team from the other
bracket was a meaningless game," Godwin said. "Now every game in
the pool means something to advance to the championship."
The first, eighth, fourth and
fifth seeds will comprise one bracket. The second, third, sixth
and seventh seeds will be in the other bracket. One team will
not make the tournament. Southern Methodist, Texas-El Paso and
Tulsa do not have baseball programs among the 12-members in
The league baseball tournament
is scheduled for May 25-29 at Trustmark Park in Pearl, MS. The
park opened in 2005, has a capacity of 8,480 and is the home of
the Mississippi Braves, the Class AA affiliate of the Atlanta
Braves. It's dimensions are 330 feet down the left field line,
402 feet to center field and 332 feet down the right field line.
"It's a neutral site," Godwin
said. "My understanding is that we've signed a three-year
agreement to have it there."