Coaches aren’t expecting a return to the “Gorilla Ball” days, but Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said it took no time at all to see the new baseballs were responding as hoped.
In an effort to increase offense in the college game while not increasing the dangers pitchers face with every pitch, seams have been lowered. According to researchers, the ball will travel as much as 20-feet farther without increasing exit velocity off the bat.
“The first day out, you could see the difference just at batting practice,” Bianco said of the new balls, which the Division I baseball committee approved by unanimous vote in November. “Maybe it’s the hopefulness that we are going to have some more home runs.”
Bianco said the Rebels hit just seven homers during fall ball in 2013; this past autumn, they cranked 26.
“We hit four home runs in the intrasquad game on Saturday,” he said. “That was just not happening with the old balls.”
Mississippi State coach John Cohen didn’t seem as all-in as Bianco, but still believes the new balls will be good for the college game.
“I don’t think it will be dramatic, but there will be subtle difference that will change a game,” he said during MSU’s media day last week. “I do think the ball is going further. I think in certain ballparks it’s going to play out a little more dramatically than it will in ours, but, again, I don’t see it making a dramatic impact.”
LSU coach Paul Mainieri backed up the safety hopes of the new balls, saying they have clocked the exit speed this year at 94 miles per hour. He said last year they hit several balls “in excess of 100 mph exit speed that did not fly out of the ballpark that landed on the warning track.”
Additionally, Mainieri expects pitchers to have fewer blisters due to the lowered seams.
Golden Spikes watch list
USA Baseball recently unveiled the 50-player Golden Spikes Award watch list. Watch list players represent 17 conferences, led by 12 SEC players. Among the collegiate standouts are Ole Miss left-hander Christian Trent, LSU shortstop Alex Bregman, Vanderbilt right-hander Walker Buehler, South Carolina right-hander Wil Crowe, Vanderbilt right-hander Carson Fulmer, Florida shortstop Richie Martin, Florida right-hander Logan Shore, Tennessee outfielder Christian Stewart, Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson, Auburn right-hander Keegan Thompson and Georgia right-hander Robert Tyler.
Finalists will be announced June 3, with the winner being announced June 23.
This article was republished with permission from the original author, Patrick Ochs, and the original publisher, the Sun Herald.