COLUMBIA – The college softball season is back, and that means fans can hear the crack of the bat once again. Or, for Missouri followers, the break of the bat.
Since switching to the new Louisville Slugger oneX composite bats in the fall, the Tigers have broken about 30 bats in practices and scrimmages.
“Quite frankly, it’s just the technology, or lack thereof, on these new Louisville bats that we’re using,” Tigers coach Ehren Earleywine said.
The team used DeMarini bats last season, but switched to Louisville when the company offered the Tigers a better deal. Earleywine said that before changing bats, the team would typically break three to five bats from preseason practices to the end of the postseason.
According to Louisville Slugger’s website, the oneX bats feature a new technology called T2 that is supposed “to strengthen the link between the barrel and handle of the oneX to give it a trampoline spring and dramatically reduced vibration on contact.”
The new technology appears to be doing the opposite, as every bat that Missouri players have broken breaks right where the barrel and the handle meet.
Saturday at the annual Black and Gold intrasquad game, one of Chelsea Thomas’ pitches broke the bat of Carlie Rose, sending the ball and the barrel in Thomas’s direction.
“I noticed it right when it hit the bat, and it just felt like all the power was lost,” Rose said. “I noticed it ricocheted all the way out, almost to Chelsea, so I was like ‘Oh my gosh, I got to keep running.’”
Rose said the cold weather might be causing the bats to break but admitted that bats have broken inside the Devine Practice Facility, too.
Earleywine said while each bat costs about $350, Louisville Slugger refunds each bat the team breaks, so it is no cost to the team. The company said by email it is researching the problem.
“It’s just a matter of hoping you have enough bats,” Earleywine said. “I think we’re stuck with the model, but they’re just going to keep pumping them into us, so no big deal.”
The bats and the team travel to California on Thursday to kick off the 2013 season. The first game of the trip is set for 10:30 a.m. Friday at UC Santa Barbara.
Supervising editor is Grant Hodder.