Welcome back long ball, we missed you!
Three weeks into the college baseball season and home run totals are up. “You make a bad pitch and a guy hits it hard, it could go out of the ball park. That just hasn’t been the case in years past and that’s the way it should be,” said Old Dominion baseball coach Chris Finwood.
Finwood and his Monarchs compete in Conference USA. Last season his team combined for 17 home runs. After just 11 games this season his players have hit six home runs. Finwood and coaches across the nation have seen a big change in how the ball travels once it leaves the bat. The NCAA announced last week that teams are hitting home runs in about every other game. Last season teams hit a home run every three games.
The NCAA introduced a new flat-seam ball to add a little extra scoring to a game that had gone flat since new bat regulations were put in place in 2011. The new ball is expected to travel 20 feet farther than balls used last season. “I think it’s a better ball for the game. All the home runs hit yesterday, I don’t think would have been home runs last season,” said Finwood.
This past weekend Virginia Tech and Wake Forest combined for eight home runs in a 9 inning game. And while scores do not look like football games like in the years of the loaded bats, more offense has been added to the game. “It does add the home run back into the game. Not ridiculously so, but to the point where it could make it more exciting,” added Finwood.
Back in 1985, Oklahoma State slugger Chris Incaviglia hit 48 home runs in 75 games. Nobody has hit more in a single season. In 2013 University of San Diego slugger Kris Bryant hit 31 homers in a season. Bryant, who now is a top prospect with the Chicago Cubs, hit his long balls with the safer less loaded BBCOR bat. Catching up to Incaviglia’s 48 home run season seems almost impossible, but with these new balls, it’s not out of the question that a hitter could one day pass the impressive season turned in two years ago by Bryant.
Yes the game has a new ball, the homer is back, so let the scoring begin!