Reporting John Lauritsen
BURNSVILLE (WCCO) — The Burnsville Blaze is the defending state champions and currently the top-ranked team in state. And they are coached to put the ball in play and get on base.
“Speed. All our guys can run. We put an emphasis on running,” said head coach Mick Scholl.
They’re going to have to. The National Federation of State High School Associations has banned the use of composite bats that teams were using, in favor of a new, safer bat.
When this year’s bats hit a ball, it will now sound more like a “thunk” than the “plink” you used to hear.
Instead of being evenly weighted like the old composite bats, the new bats weigh more on one end.
The sweet spot is much smaller on the new bats, making them feel more like wood bats. So, you can expect fewer home runs, fewer extra base hits, and more of an emphasis on small ball.
That’s OK with Scholl who likes the emphasis on traditional baseball, rather than home run derbies.
“Our spring trip that we take down to Phoenix we normally hit 25-35 home runs during our (batting practice) and we only hit two this year,” said Scholl.
Not only will pitchers have more time to protect themselves on the mound, they can survive making a mistake here or there.
“I’ve actually seen a couple of long fly balls that probably would have left the park, just are caught barely at the field. I’ve noticed a big difference so far,” said pitcher Adam Lambrecht.
For home run hitters, however, the change is a tough one to rally around.
“A lot different, a lot different. Last year, we had guys putting them out of the park and now it’s just a routine fly ball,” said center fielder, Dan Motl.
Scholl predicts you will likely see less .400 hitters at the high school ranks this year, and more .300 hitters. He also thinks fans should get used to seeing more bunting.
The NCAA used the bats last year, and saw more low-scoring games than years past.