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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Should wood bats be used in college?

    PRO: Loving the lumber


    Remember the first time you stepped into a professional baseball park. The grass is brilliant green, the smell of diamond dirt is in your nose and the crack of wood meeting ball resonates through the air. There are not many sounds in sports more pleasing or full of character.

    So why is it that only major league parks are filled with this noise?

    Now, the ping of aluminum bats has long been characteristic of college baseball, distinguishing the line between college and the pros.

    But with the NCAA trying its best every year to turn college baseball players into virtual pros, most recently with the new schedule change, then why not add one more link between the games?

    Wood bats are in no way foreign to college players as several use them frequently in batting practice rounds. Because the bats are not engineered specifically to have large sweet spots, taking hacks with wood is less forgiving and trains the hitter to make better contact – a trait they will need if they have any hope of entering the major leagues.

    Today, any player drafted into the majors likely has little to no game experience hitting with wood. While it may not appear to be much of a change, it is. Especially when the first time a player swings a wooden bat in a game it is against the top pitchers in the game.

    Needless to say, experience prior to the majors with the sticks would have limitless positive potential.

    Also, with the size and strength of the average college player increasing every year, wooden bats also make sense from a safety perspective.

    Last year, first base coach Mike Coolbaugh from the Colorado Rockies AA franchise was struck and killed by a line drive. This was with a bat with considerably less power than college baseball’s aluminum sticks.

    With the strength of hitters increasing as well as the speed with which pitchers deliver the ball, the combination creates a situation which could potentially see more incidents such as Coolbaugh’s propagate throughout the college game.

    The NCAA has taken too long in making the switch. If they are willing to make college players compete in a major league-esque schedule, why not help them out in more ways? Not to mention the assistance collegiate pitchers would get by facing wood rather than metal.

    So to the NCAA, bring the true sound of baseball to college. Not the metal ping of little league, but the proud crack of the major leagues. These kids are obviously ready for it.

    -Bobby Stover, sports writer

    CON: Keep the ping in college baseball


    The ping of an aluminum bat is synonymous with amateur baseball.

    Little League, high school and college baseball – all metal.

    As a former high school baseball player, our batting cage work was all done with wooden bats, in an effort to develop a better sense for the “”sweet spot”” – an area far smaller on wooden bats.

    Back during the bitter cold months of March in Massachusetts, such wooden bats sent harsh vibrations when hitting the handle or end of the barrel. Although Tucson almost never sees snow at Sancet Stadium, a wooden bat still slightly lessens the amount of “”pop”” and explosion in comparison to metal.

    Regardless, every coach will say that the difference between both metal and wooden are minimal, but it’s more of a signature for college baseball – a rapidly growing sport.

    Why tamper with something that’s already working?

    Even ESPN is catching onto the growth of a sport that only receives air time three weeks (during the College World Series) out of its 13-week season. ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth follows around the Arizona baseball team as part of his “”Meet the Schlereths”” online webcast. As father of UA co-closer Daniel Schlereth, Mark gained a newfound interest in college baseball’s intriguing new popularity.

    “”I would say the majority of the great young talented in this country is being cultivated at the college level,”” Schlereth said. “”I don’t think the nation, so to speak, and us as an organization at ESPN have really kept up and understood how college baseball has changed.””

    As far as the talent level, the sport has changed dramatically. But no need here to make the conversion to wood anytime soon.

    Until Bryce Florie’s son gets a line drive back into his face.

    -Bryan Roy, sports writer

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