Ping has lost its sting in college baseball

by John Helsley Published: May 4, 2011
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Players from both teams were somewhat prepared, having played with wooden bats in various summer leagues.

“Coming from summer ball and hitting with wood bats, it was a little easier,” said Cowboys catcher Jared Womack. “But I can tell you, these bats are worse than wood. They're terrible.”

Reaction to the sweeping change has ranged from intrigue to outrage. Teams molded around power bats have had to adjust.

“I liked the game it was,” Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard told the Montgomery Advertiser. “We've built many teams hitting the ball out of the ballpark.”

This year, Alabama ranks last in the 12-team SEC in batting average.

At OU, Golloway has tried to downplay the bat issue. His teams had traditionally used wooden bats in the fall, so the switch to the BBCOR model wasn't so drastic.

“I think there's been a lot of psychology involved,” Golloway said. “I've tried to not make it an issue. Some coaches have made it a devastating issue.

“I've admitted that it's changed the game. We're bunting at an alarming rate, getting guys into scoring position.”

That's the new name of the game.

“There's such an emphasis on being able to bunt or at least hit behind runners so much more than it has been in the past,” said Anderson, whose club has already produced more sacrifice bunts than all of last season. “You're just not going to see guys who look like me hit 20 home runs, which I like.

“It rewards the guys who should hit home runs and doesn't reward a 5-foot-8, 160-pound guy who's been hitting 20 jacks. I think it's played pretty fair.”

College pitchers would agree.

With the rules changes playing equalizer, pitchers are being more aggressive, challenging hitters instead of working the corners in fear of the damage of the formerly forgiving bats.

“The sweet spot's barely anything,” said OSU pitcher Mike Strong. “That's the best thing.”

As a battery mate, Ogle can at least appreciate the flip side.

“Our pitchers love it,” he said. “They like being able to come inside hard, knowing that these bats aren't as juiced as they were last year. Maybe we can get an easy fly ball, as opposed to a fly ball that may carry over the fence.

“They pitch to the bats, and they don't seem to have a problem with it. And being a catcher, it doesn't hurt getting three up, three down.”

Professional scouts like the new bats, too, gaining a truer insight into what a prospect might become.

“It takes some of the guesswork out,” Art Gardner, a Mississippi-based scout, told The Associated Press. “You used to go to a game, and it seemed like every team's lineup had six guys with 10-plus homers.

“It was a constant struggle to figure out the true power hitters.”

Now, clout is clearly identified, if in shorter supply.

“I've got to tell you,” said Anderson, who remains OSU's pitching coach, “I like it. I think it's probably made for a better game to watch. As the kids get used to it and it becomes more of the norm, you'll see more home runs.

“But I remember the first year of the Big 12, when I was at Texas Tech, we played in the championship game at All-Sports Stadium. The score was something crazy (19-17). Those bats are so far removed from what we have now.”

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by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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Power Outage

NCAA legislation has sapped the power from college baseball's bats.

Changes aimed at safety have resulted in fewer hits, runs and home runs across the country, as well as for the Cowboys and Sooners.

A statistical look at how this season compares to 2010:

NCAA Mid-Season Report

, 2010, 2011

Team Batting Avg, .307, .292

Runs, 2,917, 2,382

Hits, 4,140, 3,792

Home Runs, 426, 242

Oklahoma

, 2010, 2011

Team Batting Avg., .323, .324

Runs Per Game, 7.7, 7.4

HR Per Game, 1.5, 0.75

Staff ERA, 3.76, 3.15

Oklahoma State

, 2010, 2011

Team Batting Avg., .307, .302

Runs Per Game, 7.0, 6.1

HR Per Game, 1.0, 0.67

Staff ERA, 5.56, 3.15

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