In just three days, baseball will be back in full force on the Ole Miss campus at Swayze Field when the Diamond Rebels welcome William and Mary in for a three-game series beginning Feb. 13.
This season, each team will have to adjust to the new baseball that will be used across the country as college baseball has adopted the flat-seam ball instead of using the raised-seam ball. The previous ball had a raised seam of 0.48 inches compared to the 0.31 of the flat seamed ball.
This new ball is supposed to be an advantage to the hitter with researchers claiming a difference of as much as 20 feet.
“The first day out, you could see the difference just at batting practice. Maybe it’s the hopefulness that we are going to have some more home runs,” coach Mike Bianco said.
The Rebels have seen that during fall ball and spring as they have hit a total of 26 home runs compared to the fall of 2013 where they cranked out seven home runs during fall ball, Bianco said. “During our last intersquad game we hit a total of four home runs.”
For the guys in the lineup like Colby Bortles and Sikes Orvis, a deep shot to the warning track last year very well could venture out this season.
“Balls that you would hit with a lot of back spin last year to the track or being hit to the wall are now going out,” senior Orvis said. “Making it that much more fun to hit.”
The other aspect of the new baseball is how it will affect the pitcher throughout the season. Most pitchers are used to playing in a park that the ball will stay in with a outfield that is fast enough to go track down a ball to make an out or cut down a would-be double.
For pitchers like Sam Smith and other Rebel hurlers, a fast outfield allows them to bare down with confidence and attack their opponents’ strike zone.
This season looks to be awfully fun out at Swayze with the likelihood of a lot of showers out in right.
Adam Brown is HottyToddy.com sports editor and can be reached at email@example.com.