Hounds adjusting to new bats

Clarence Plank

The boys of summer are getting ready to start spring training for the upcoming baseball season.

Meanwhile, at Eastern New Mexico University, Greyhounds are learning how to hit with the new NCAA specs for baseball bats.

Greyhounds coach Phil Clabaugh said they are spending $3,500 for new bats, but were able to make up the difference thanks to a donation by longtime supporter Gary Robbins, concession stand and old bat sales.

“The university isn’t coming up with extra funds to buy the bats,” Clabaugh said. “We’re obtaining them through our own budget (baseball budget) and with the help of a booster. Bat costs are absorbed into the existing baseball budget, so university doesn’t pay any extra money.”

Clabaugh said the new bats are made of aluminum.

“The bats we used last season had such a trampoline effect when he hit balls,” Clabaugh said. “The ball would sink into the bat and spring off it.”

Clabaugh feels the bats they were using last season were 75 percent “hotter” in terms of how hard a ball comes off the bat.

Clabaugh said he envisions a different style of baseball that includes more bunting, hit-and-runs and steals — like baseball was meant to be played.

“You have a guy who might have a batting average of .300 last season, he might hit .200 this season,” Clabaugh said. “A hitter with 15 homers last season could hit five this season.”

ENMU senior second baseman/infielder Chris Eaton said the new bats act more like wood bats than before.

“The biggest difference is on the barrel area,” Eaton said. “You could hit something on the barrel with the old bats and that thing would take off. With these, if you hit it on the barrel it’s not going to go very far. That’s a similarity with wooden bats because the ball doesn’t travel as far.”

Eaton thinks the bats would be a lot safer for the players and he’s interested to see how the stats change with the new standard.