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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The Battalion May 4, 2024

New seams on baseballs give Aggie bats extra pop

Sarah Lane

The NCAA authorized new flat-seamed baseballs effective this year, and it has been in the Aggies favor.

This spring the Division 1 Baseball Committee made the decision to implement a new style of collegiate baseball. The raised-seamed baseballs used in the past have been replaced by new, flat-seamed balls introduced with the intent of increasing the level of offense and, in turn, the excitement of the game. 
Although the sample size is limited, it seems to have worked.
Research done by the Washington State University Sport Science Laboratory in the fall of 2014 explored the advantages of the new balls. When sent through a pitching machine at an average of 95 miles per hour, flat-seamed balls traveled 387 feet compared to 367 feet from the raised-seamed balls. 
Texas A&M head coach Rob Childress said the new baseballs have already had some impact on the sport. 
“Our sport is at an all-time high as far as popularity nationally,” Childress said. “We got to the point that we’ve almost taken all the excitement out of our sport and, you know, you feel like if you’re down three runs you were going to have to have some help to come back and win it. Now with the ball I think it’s a happy medium where you can hit your way back to a win, and that’s been a positive for our sport and the home run is part of the game again.”
After the first three weeks of the spring season, the statistical trends released by the NCAA showed that the amount of home runs per game for each team increased by more than 40 percent compared to the 2014 season. The Aggies have been part of that upward trend that started for them in the fall when they were first introduced to the new baseballs. 
“Coming out of the fall we felt like it was going to be a benefit to us from an offensive standpoint,” Childress said. “We had 18 scrimmages in the fall, we hit 25 home runs and we only hit 25 home runs in 62 games last spring. So we felt like with our personnel the baseballs would definitely be an advantage for us.”
Junior catcher Michael Barash said the new baseballs have brought about a change of mindset.
“We used them all fall practice and we could tell immediately in our first round of batting practice that they could really fly and the pitchers were getting more movement on their pitches and there was a little bit more velocity behind it,” Barash said. 
Although hitting seemed to be the main focus surrounding the new balls, Barash said pitching is also affected. With a new ball, the learning process somewhat begins again for pitchers. At the end of the day, a baseball is still a baseball, but the intricacies of what pitchers do to put the ball exactly where they want involve all of its minor details.
The pitchers have had to adjust their finger pressure with the new balls and tweak their hand placement to throw the same pitches they were capable of throwing with the raised-seamed balls.
Junior pitcher Andrew Vinson said it was vital that the team was able to have access to the balls in the fall in order to be fully prepared for their spring season. 
“When you get introduced to something new you’ve got to play with it a little bit and see how it works,” said Vinson. 
In addition to the 25 home runs hit in the fall by the Aggies, they have already hit 48 this season and are on pace to more than double their total from last year. The 48 homers for A&M have placed the team No. 14 in the nation, a much better rank than No. 95, where they ended the season in 2014. 
Barash said the new balls have opened a door to a new style of play. 
“We’re not relying on small-ball or hoping the other team makes a mistake,” Barash said. “We can kind of play our game and we know that a home run might get us back in it or a big double might get us back in it where we’d have to bunt or manufacture a run now we can actually play the game the way I think it should be played by driving in runs and having big offensive production.” 
Childress said, regardless of the players’ talent, the balls have made some difference.  
“I think [the baseballs are] a huge part without question and you know, obviously our guys are a year older and stronger and smarter, but I do feel like the baseball has been a huge impact for us in a positive way,” Childress said.

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