Year 2 of new bats to see continued adjustments
Published: Sunday, February 5, 2012
Updated: Sunday, February 5, 2012 16:02
The NCAA enforced its new standard for baseball bats last season.
With a year under their belts, head coach Terry Rooney and the Knights know how the new bats affect the game and are preparing for the upcoming season according to those changes.
All NCAA baseball teams have been required to use bats that are Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution certified.
The NCAA released a memorandum addressed to athletic directors, coaches and conference commissioners in 2009 that outlined the BBCOR testing method and notified recipients of the 2011 implementation.
"The goal is that non-wood bats that meet this new standard will perform similarly to wood bats," the NCAA said in the memorandum.
Rooney recognized the results during play last season.
"The bats last year definitely changed the game, there's no question. It has put a little bit more of an emphasis on the defensive side because there is not quite as much power up and down the lineups," Rooney said. "The exit velocity of these bats is not as great as it was before. So statistically speaking, the biggest thing you saw last year is there is a decrease in home runs."
Rooney and the UCF coaching staff facilitated offseason workouts with the changed game in mind.
"For me, it has put more of an emphasis on the fundamentals, and it has put an emphasis on strength and conditioning," Rooney said. "We need to make sure we are strong and physical and able to make the adjustments. It has definitely changed the game."
The changes Rooney referred to did not stop UCF from winning 39 games in 2011. The Knights returned to an NCAA regional tournament last year for the first time since 2004.
The Knights' season, including their return to the postseason, came with a .307 team average and 58 total home runs; the team hit for a .343 average and 78 home runs the year before with bats that did not meet BBCOR requirements.
"They have taken a little more pop out of the bat, but guys who can hit are still going to be able to hit," junior relief pitcher Joe Rogers said. "So you still have to be very aware of not missing pitches, hitting spots and stuff like that. It has been a little bit of an adjustment, but all of our players have done a really good job with that."
Rooney says the change in the game is not necessarily a good one, but it is still one he must adjust to.
"I thought before they changed the bats, we were in a good place. Offense is what makes college baseball unique," Rooney said. "But with that being said, it's not up to me. You have to make the adjustments and the changes. Everybody is dealt the same cards, and we all have to play with it. The kids are used to it now. It's not really as much of an issue now because we have been through it for a year."
The BBCOR bats are designed to play more like wood bats, leaving junior shortstop Darnell Sweeney with a positive outlook on the change.
"You really know who is a good hitter with the new bats," Sweeney said. "In pro ball when you use wood bats, you have to square up on the ball so it helps you to get to the next level."
Rogers shares Sweeney's sentiment.
"It's good to get that professional feel. It's more realistic, relying a lot more on pitching," Rogers said. "I think it is a lot better for the game."