NEW BATS CHANGING COLLEGE BASEBALL
There, do you know any more than you did? Didn't think so. It all has to do with the ball-from-bat exit speed ratio with that trampoline effect being significantly reduced from last year, which has in turn reduced the distance batted balls travel. "The desire was to make the bat play more like wooden bats," said K-State coach Brad Hill, who compares it to minor league wooden bats, and not the higher quality wood used by major leaguers. The multiple reasons for the change include player safety and length of games, but Hill is one to call it an "unnecessary" move. "I don't think we needed change. There was nothing wrong with where the bats were last year, and that comes from a program that doesn't hit home runs." Baylor's sports information department reported that as of March 27 last year to this year, home runs went from 214 in 2010 to 92 in 2011. In the first 26 Big 12 games played this spring, there were just 10 home runs. Last week, however, the bats heated up with a total of 16 home runs in the 15 games played. "Fans like to see some offense. They like to see that two-run home run," said Hill, whose Wildcats will entertain Oklahoma this weekend at Tointon Family Stadium with games starting at 6:30 tonight, 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. "Now you have to hit an absolute missile to get it out of the park." Jason King leads K-State with six home runs, but he admits the new dynamics of the bat have cost him "a few" dingers. "The biggest difference was last year you could miss really hitting the ball on the sweet spot and it could be a home run," said King. "Most of the home runs I've seen this year are line drives that have really taken off. Any ball hit in the air just doesn't carry like it used to. The overall effectiveness is definitely like wood." K-State's leading hitter for average is Nick Martini, who has a .354 average after hitting .416 last year. While not using the new bat as an excuse to the lower average, Martini does say, "The ball doesn't carry this year. I'm not a 10 to 15 home run guy, but where it has affected me are those hits to the opposite field (left field) where the ball just seems to hang up in the air. "You really have to focus on staying flat with your swing and hitting line drives," said Martini, who last year set a K-State single season record with 71 singles. It is certain that runs are down in 2011. Out of 41 conference games, 14 times the winning team scored no more than four runs, and 16 times the losing side had zero or one run. In league games only, two teams have ERA's of below three runs per game, and half the league has a team ERA of 3.54 or under. Last year, Texas A&M had a 4.42 staff ERA, which ranked third in the league, and five teams had team ERA's of over six runs per game. To the new bat, King said, "There's no reason to get mad because it's not going to help. You just have to deal with it, and learn how to hit with it." Overall, Hill summarizes, "It is what it is, and you better learn how to hit with it. You're going to see a lot more bunting and teams playing for a run or two, rather on trying for that big inning. You better learn to bunt and handle the bat." NO. 7 SOONERS NEXT FOR WILDCATS: For the fourth straight weekend, K-State (16-11, 2-7) faces one of the nation's best in the No. 7 Oklahoma Sooners at Tointon Family Stadium. The Sooners (23-6, 5-3) stand in third-place in the Big 12 and are coming off a three-game sweep of Texas Tech last week when they out-scored the Red Raiders 29-7 in the three games. The Sooners lead the league in all games played with a .337 team batting average, plus have clubbed 25 home runs, which is high in the league. In Big 12 games, OU is hitting .283, which also is high in the league. OU has the No. 1, No. 4 and No. 11 hitters in the league in Garrett Buechele (.430), Evan Mistich (.382) and Cameron Seitzer (.349). Buechele's seven home runs also lead the Big 12. The Wildcats are hitting .283 overall and .260 in league play with Martini's .354 average leading the team. Martini enters the game having reached base safely in an NCAA record 87 consecutive games. NELSON TO DELIVER FIRST PITCH: Former K-State All-American wide receiver and Super Bowl hero Jordy Nelson of the Green Bay Packers will fire the first pitch Friday night at 6:30 prior to the Wildcat baseball game against the Oklahoma Sooners. Nelson caught nine passes for a Super Bowl record 140 yards and a touchdown in the Packers' 31-25 victory over Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLV. There will also be a pregame tailgate starting at 5 p.m. in the picnic area beyond the left-field wall. A Family 4-Pack is available for the game, which includes four general admission bench tickets and four concession vouchers for $40. BIG 12 STANDINGS: Texas A&M 7-2, Texas 7-2, Oklahoma 5-3, Oklahoma State 5-4, Texas Tech 4-5, Kansas 4-5, Baylor 4-5, Nebraska 2-4, K-State 2-7, Missouri 1-4 WEEKEND GAMES: Oklahoma at K-State, Nebraska at Kansas, Texas at Baylor, Texas A&M at Texas Tech, Missouri at Oklahoma State We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen at email@example.com, or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou at firstname.lastname@example.org. For those who would like to share Sports Extra with a friend or family member, or change your current email address, click here.