New bats have changed sound, strategy of high school baseball

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by TED MADDEN

WFAA

Posted on April 17, 2012 at 6:56 PM

KELLER - In high school baseball, the ping was always the thing, until this year.

The bats have changed; they're still aluminum, just not as lively.

"The main thing is, you feel like you get a lot into it, but then you watch it go and it's nothing," said Zack Wilburn, Keller Central's first baseman.

Hitters now use bats that have been proven to limit the speed at which the ball leaves the bat. And they sound different too.

"You hear the bat, the different sound of the bat," said Gator Alexander, Keller Central center fielder, as he wraps the barrel of his bat with his knuckles. "Instead of a 'bling,' you hear a 'thump.'"

You can hear the difference between a sequence of batted balls from last year compared to this year. The ball doesn't fly as far either.

"I thought I got a hold of one at Rangers Stadium," said Southlake Carroll second baseman Darien McLemore. "I thought that ball was gone for sure. It just -- it didn't go. I don't even think it bounced off the wall."

The different bats have led to other changes, too. Pitchers are throwing inside more, and coaches are playing more small ball with bunts and hit-and-run plays.

"You gotta be more aggressive, trying to score those extra runs," said Keller Central Head Coach David Zeigler. "I think early in the game, more teams are going to the bunt game and hit and run."

"We absolutely coach pitchers differently," said Carroll coach Larry Hughes. "I think one of the things it has been good for is pitching, and learning to throw inside."

High school baseball has changed -- the way it's played, and the way it sounds.

E-mail tmadden@wfaa.com

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