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Wood vs. metal

Legion players debate the differences of the two bats

July 2, 2009
Matt Mullally

If Rolette County Legion baseball player Josh Casavant had his way, metal or aluminum bats would be the norm in the bat rack.

"I'm batting .530 during the Legion season with metal bats and was only hitting about .275 using wood bats this spring during high school ball,' Casavant said. "Yeah, it's pretty clear what I like."

Several of Josh's teammates agree a metal bat boosts the batting average and brings more offense into the game.

"It just pops off the bat a lot better,' said Blake Nelson. "I like swinging one. A wood bat to me feels more top heavy."

Jaden Pfeifer says a wood bat may have a more solid sweet spot, but metal bats have a bigger one, and metal bats enable smaller-statured players a chance to hit for power.

"The ball goes just as far with a wood one as a metal one if hit in (the sweet spot),' said Nic Pfeifer. "You don't have to think so much at the plate with a metal bat. You just try to make good contact, and usually the ball gets through the infield fast. When I used a wood bat (during the high school season), I had to shoot for gaps."

However, not everyone feels the metal bat is far superior.

"Actually, I hit the ball better with a wood bat (during the high school season) than I am hitting right now,' said Aaron Teigen. "I think I swing better with a wood bat."

Mitch Grochow also likes the feel of the wood bat, adding it's more true baseball. Zach Thompson actually likes the opportunity to use both bats. "I like some diversity, and I think it makes you a better hitter,' he said.

However, those who don't mind hitting with a wood bat said wouldn't step into the batter's box with one in the Legion season.

RC coach Tory Danielson has used both in games, playing with metal bats during his high school and Legion career, and wood bats in two seasons of college baseball at MSU-Bottineau.

"Most players have grown up with metal bats, so they feel more comfortable with them, but I think a wood bat forces you to hit from foul line to foul line,' he said. "You have to take those outside pitches to the opposite field."

Metal bats certainly create more offense, and on average, more runs are scored in games using them. When wood bats were introduced into the high school game a few years back, run production dropped as there were fewer hits. The change forced teams to take a different approach to hitting. More players looked at bunting to get on base, or to sacrifice to move a runner over into scoring position.

Of course, the debate would not be complete without input from pitchers.

"You always try to keep the ball down in the (hitting) zone, but it's more important during the Legion season with the metal bats,' Jaden Pfeifer said.

Zach Thompson is a power pitcher but knows he has to be careful where he leaves his pitches with a batter at the plate with a metal bat. "If you leave it up, it's probably going to be hit hard somewhere,' Zach said.

Garrett Thompson is not a power pitcher. Rather, he mixes up pitch speeds and works both sides of the plate. Whether a batter has a wood bat or an aluminum one in his hand, Garrett's focus is still the same.

"I try to hit my spots and have good control around the plate,' he said. "I don't think to much about the bat."

Perhaps it's not so much the kind of bat but the mental approach of the hitter in the batting box and the pitcher on the mound.

"It's still baseball, and pitchers need to throw strikes to be effective, and hitters need to make contact,' Danielson said.



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