High school baseball: Class B bringing back aluminum bats
FARGO - The first state high school league to switch exclusively to wood baseball bats is bringing aluminum back into the fold. The North Dakota High School Activities Association Board of Directors, which changed to wood in 2007, voted 11-0 last...
FARGO - The first state high school league to switch exclusively to wood baseball bats is bringing aluminum back into the fold.
The North Dakota High School Activities Association Board of Directors, which changed to wood in 2007, voted 11-0 last month to allow aluminum bats in Class B competition in 2011-12.
"I know nostalgia-wise wood is nice to use," said Central Cass baseball coach and athletic director Justin Fletschock. "But we are fine with aluminum."
Class B coaches and administrators asked for the change primarily for financial reasons, Fletschock said. Class B district chairs voted 16-0 to pass the recommendation on to the Board for a vote.
American Legion baseball will switch to the BBCOR (Ball Bat Coefficient of Restitution) standard for its bats next year to fall in line with the National Federation of High School Associations and the NCAA.
BBCOR-rated aluminum bats have nearly identical ball exit speeds as wood bats, according to the NCAA and American Legion baseball.
The NCAA adopted the change this season.
Many small communities in North Dakota that play Class B baseball share equipment with the town's American Legion team, Fletschock said.
Fletschock said it makes sense to change the high school standard to fit in line with American Legion and NCAA rules.
"We've already broken three (wood) bats that are supposed to last," Fletschock said. "You have two options: Buy a new one or send it back and receive it a couple of weeks later. I need the bat now."
Fletschock said the change will cut his $1,000 bat budget at the high school in half.
Class A coaches have a different take on the finances.
That's why the change may not hit the state's largest schools anytime soon. Larger cities in North Dakota do not share equipment with Legion teams.
"I just don't see the point," Fargo South coach Donn Bryant said. "You can spend two to three times more on aluminum bats and they have the same pop (as wood)."
"The last three years I spent less than $2,000 on bats," North coach Jeff Fiechtner added. "If we buy aluminum bats at $400, and we want a new bat for each of four teams, there goes my budget."
Bryant and Fiechtner said most of the baseball coaches in the Eastern Dakota Conference would prefer to stay with wood bats.
North Dakota changed to wood bats in the fall of 2007 in large part to avoid serious injuries. High exit speeds for aluminum bats in the early 2000's gave fielders little reaction time.
"BBCOR bats are basically wood bats made of aluminum," said NDHSAA Assistant to the Executive Secretary Matt Fetsch. "They are not the weapons that have been used in the past."
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