Taking The ‘Ping!’ Out Of UH Bats

Bob Hogue
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Wednesday - February 23, 2011
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If you thought the sound of the batted ball at Les Murakami Stadium sounds a little different this season, you’re not alone.

“It’s lost its ping” is the common refrain from college baseball coaches around the country.

That’s because the NCAA has instituted new bat rules - known as BBCOR rules, or “ball-bat co-efficient restitution” for those who love to know what acronyms stand for. And these new regulations make the batted ball decidedly less lively.

“It’s the biggest change in college baseball in 25 years,” says UH baseball coach Mike Trapasso. “Teams that have traditionally played ‘Gorilla Ball’ or ‘Crush Ball’may struggle-no one knows for sure. But I’m sure we’ll see much lower scores.”

The rule went into effect this year after the NCAA noticed that run production was way up, and the length of games was much longer too. Safety factors also entered the discussion, and the new bat regulations will make the newly certified aluminum bats perform closer to traditional wood bats.

“We sure saw our home run production drop this fall,” Trapasso says. “Usually, we hit over 20-25 in home runs in fall ball, but this year we hit only three home runs in our 25 scrimmage games. We may not see 10 home runs hit out of our ballpark this season. I know one thing for sure - the days of us setting home run records like we did two years ago, those days are gone.”

Perhaps that’s good for the baseball ‘Bows anyway. Hawaii has rarely “muscled up” with the heavy hitters from the Mainland, and Trapasso says “execution on offense will be the top priority.” You can expect to see more bunts, more steals, more hit and run, and more all around “small ball.”

Hawaii will put those tactics to the test against some outstanding opposition. Following nationally ranked Oregon, who came to town this past weekend, will be national powers Texas (this weekend, Feb. 25-27), plus Cal State Fullerton (March 25-27) and Wichita State (March 30-April 2).

“Twenty of our 55 games are against teams ranked in the top 15 in the nation,” Trapasso says. “Sometimes, it seems like we overschedule a bit, but I think there’s really no downside as we’re trying to get ready for our conference season.”

Last year’s Hawaii team made a magical trip into the NCAARegionals after winning the WAC tournament.

“I would think there is a carry-over of expectations,” Coach Trap says. “We return some pretty special players, and even despite some early adversity with the tough schedule, these teams we play will expose our weaknesses and help us out. Our goal is to get to the regionals consistently.”

Trapasso’s team will be home for quite a stretch this spring. After Oregon and Texas and a roadtrip to Loyola-Marymount, the ‘Bows are home for 27 straight games between March 10 and April 23. Then comes a tough WAC schedule.

“We still have two full seasons to play in the WAC (before) we move into the Big West. That move probably has a bigger impact on us than any other sport at the school. The Big West is known as a baseball conference and has multiple teams going to the regionals and often to the College World Series every year. We’ve already seen a real positive impact with our recruiting.”

So the excitement is building at Les Murakami Stadium this spring. Get out to a ball game soon - just don’t expect as many runs or monstrous “pings.”

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