New bats having affect on power

Proficient hitting has become a way of life for the baseball team.

With a .351 team batting average a year ago and a .337 average this season, opponents know the Warhawks can rake.

They’re doing this despite an exponential change in the types of bats allowed by the NCAA.

Perhaps the biggest change in the game in recent years, the NCAA adopted a new Bat-Ball Coefficient Restitution (BBCOR) standard for testing baseball bat performance. This standard supersedes the previous Ball Exit Speed Ratio (BESR) standard which measured the exit speed of the ball off the bat.

The new BBCOR standard regulates the flexibility of non-wood bats in their construction along with the resultant “trampoline effect” of balls springing off the striking surface of the barrel.

This will be accomplished by making barrel walls thicker and less flexible, or by installing barrel inserts behind the “sweet spot” to block flexing.
With the adoption of this new standard, non-wood bats will compare to their wood counterparts more than ever.

“It really deadens down the bats,” head coach John Vodenlich said. “What we’ve seen already is a reduction in power numbers. We’ve seen a lot of people trying to figure out which bats to use, and availability is tight on the good bats.”

Throughout 15 games last year, the ’Hawks pounded 17 home runs. This year, they have only hit five.

“The bats are a lot similar to the original aluminum bats,” Vodenlich said.

The NCAA changed the rules not only to make aluminum bats more similar to wood bats, but to increase player safety as well. Because the ball from the previous bats exited with a higher velocity than a wooden bat, there was naturally a greater danger for pitchers and infielders.

“The [NCAA] said this year that they wanted a bat that performed not as good so we can bring the game back to the traditional way,” Vodenlich said.

Vodenlich said there will be no return to wooden bats for college teams.

Although wood bats are allowed for college teams, the bats cost somewhere between $60-100.

Throughout the course of a season, each player would break at least a few bats, and a Division III college would not have the budget to support the replacement of the broken bats.

Although the power numbers of the players have suffered, their averages have not.

Leading the way is senior outfielder Daniel Putnam, who is mashing the ball with a .520 average and a .627 slugging percentage.

’Hawks split over weekend

The ’Hawks split over the weekend with UW-Stevens Point taking the first two games on Saturday and losing two on Sunday.

The ’Hawks took the first two games 5-3, 6-2 and the Pointers took the next two 8-1, 11-7.

The ’Hawks continue their WIAC season with a home doubleheader against UW-Platteville beginning at 1 p.m. today.