Currently, colleges almost universally employ aluminum bats and its distinctive ‘ping’. Now, it looks like there might be a movement to get back to using the traditional wood bats. According to this article at the NCAA web site, Division II in particular is serious about contemplating the change:
Pitchers in high school or community college who are throwing the ball between 88 to 92 miles per hour typically are drafted into professional baseball, (Flagler head coach Dave) Barnett said, because scouts look initially for velocity. Those who either don’t sign or are not drafted who have that kind of speed will be scooped up by Division I. That leaves Division II schools being in more of a development mode, Barnett said.
That makes wood the right choice for Division II, Barnett said. He and his colleagues in the Peach Belt – especially since Brunk arrived – have talked about changing but are reluctant to do so unless the division acts collectively.
Interest on the Division I level?
But is Division II the only level considering a change? Maybe not.
This month, the Big Ten Network posted a poll on its baseball page asking, “Costs aside, should college baseball move to use wood bats or stay with sweet "ping" of metal?”. Rather odd, considering the Big Ten is comprised of Division I teams.
As far as I’m concerned, the results aren’t incredibly important. If you’re interested, Wood has the edge 70.7% to 29.3% (surprised?? yeah, I was, too).
However, what IS important is that the poll is there at ALL. It tells me two things:
1) The issue is on their minds.. that it’s even an issue at all. By “their” I mean the Big Ten Network who certainly has the close ears of the Big Ten itself.
2) It’s a potential way to push the issue into the public’s minds (and by “public”, I mean the small subset of the public that follows college baseball. Polls can go both ways. Yes, they may be a good way to gauge opinion but they are also a tool to throw a wet noodle issue onto a wall and perhaps see if it sticks.
From the looks of it, Division II college baseball is on their way to discussing the issue of wood bats on the diamond. It seems those conferences have more to gain from it considering the development of the players involved. Still, it will be interesting to watch this story unfold.