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ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

SCSU ready to put away the lumber in the World Series

NEW HAVEN — Tim Shea cracked open several boxes containing new bats and one by one the members of the Southern Connecticut State baseball grabbed them like kids on Christmas morning. The bats brought smiles to the faces of power hitters like A.J. Rouleau and Ryan Geffert for a couple of minutes.
Then Shea, Southern’s veteran coach, ordered his team to begin stretching and it was back to business for the Owls (43-7-1) as they prepare to play in the NCAA Division II College World Series at Cary, N.C.
Southern, the winners of the East Regional, will meet the University of West Florida (48-9) in their first game on Sunday at 5 p.m. West Florida won the South Regional. Southern will play again on Tuesday against a team to be determined in the double-elimination tournament.
SCSU paid for the new bats the team first used in Tuesday’s practice. Geffert and Rouleau, two of the top hitters on the Owls, haven’t swung an aluminum bat in a few years. Southern plays in the Northeast-10 Conference which plays all its games with wood bats while most other conferences around the nation still use metal bats.
“I see myself as a completely different hitter now,” Rouleau said. “When I was with the aluminum I had a lot more power and I hit a lot of home runs. To tell you the truth I like wood better. It’s better for everybody, the pitchers, the infielders and it’s a truer game.”
This season the NCAA mandated a new type of aluminum bat designated which it feels more resembles wooden bats. Shea said the flight of the ball is a bit more restricted than it was last year and overall home runs are down on all the levels. Still, aluminum bats are a different animal.
“When we saw who we were playing we went to their team Web site and checked them out,” said Geffert, who is batting .311 with six homers and 49 RBIs. “We saw they’ve got inflated numbers. They’re hitting .350 as a team and we’re only hitting .275.
“But we feel that we have become good hitters with the wooden bats. When you switch to a metal bat there are certain pitches you can swing at that you wouldn’t swing at with a wooden bat.
“If you swing at an inside pitch with a wooden bat you’ll probably break it. If you hit it with a metal bat you could fist a single over the infield. It makes a difference.”
Rouleau isn’t worried about an adjustment period at the plate or in the field. Playing third base he doesn’t expect he’ll play deeper than he usually does. He only felt that outfielders will have to adjust because the sound off the bat is always the same with a metal bat and they won’t be able to use it to judge the distance of the hit.
“Coming into Southern I had never used wood so it was kind of a longer transition for me to get used to it,” Rouleau said. “Any part of the metal bat you could hit it and it still could go out. It’s a lot more forgiving than the wooden bat.
”I think it’s going to be a lot easier transition going back to the metal.”
Rouleau said the pitchers may not like it but it really won’t make a difference.
“We just have to play like we’ve been playing,” he said. “We have to get used to the surroundings, get used to the bats. We’ll get more power back but we still have to get the pitching that we’ve been getting this year and we’ll be OK.”
West Florida had 37 home runs during the season while SCSU hit 20.

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