Fewer Homeruns Flying over the Fence this Spring

By Kevin Holton –

Fly balls may not be soaring so far this year.

In an effort to minimize injuries, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) has set a ban on bats that do not pass specific safety tests for high school baseball and Penn Manor’s players will have to switch to the new bats during their spring season.

“It’ll prevent a lot of serious injuries and have less of a risk,” said Penn Manor baseball player Austin Richwine.

But there will probably be a lot less balls that are knocked “out of the park.”

BBCOR bats may change high school baseball. Photo courtsey of justbats.com

The University of Massachusetts – Lowell Baseball Research Center had previously only tested bats for college baseball but not for high school baseball, according to the PIAA.

Until this year.

For high school baseball play, all bats must be safety certified for the 2012 season under the latest testing regulations.

“It’ll effect a lot of people’s personal stats because of less pop,” added Richwine

The Lowell Research Center previously certified a bat through a BESR test which determined the speed of the ball after it is hit where a new test, the  BBCOR test, measures the bounciness that a bat gives a ball when it is hit.

The performance of a safety certified bat is very similar to that of a wooden bat.  According to stevetheump.com, with solid wood bats, much of that energy is lost as the ball hits the bat.  With a hollow, composite bat, the walls slighty flex and do not take away energy from a pitched ball thus giving it more power to soar farther.

“Statistically in Division I college baseball, home runs and runs scored all fell drastically this year due to the use of BBCOR bats, ” said Matthew Scheuing, a history teacher at Penn Manor and an F&M College baseball coach.

The new bats do have many positive effects.  According to Scheuing, players will now have to really focus more on actual hitting, bunting and running techinques that were not developed in previous years due to the increase in the power of other bats.

“The new bats give us a more true evaluation of a player’s abilities both as hitters and pitchers,” said Scheuing

BBCOR bats may seem like a huge downgrade from bats that were previously used, but according to Streeter Stuart, the Penn Manor High School baseball coach, the bats do not put all players at a disadvantage.

“The new BBCOR bats are still more technologically advanced than the bats I was using in high school or college,” said Stuart.  “But the same thing is true now that was true 20 years ago. If you hit the ball square, it will be hit hard.”

Although this bat will cause less injuries, it will not guarantee safety.

“A line drive that hits you in the head, no matter the type of bat, is going to hurt you,” said Stuart.