Little League Bans Unsafe, High-Tech Bats

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Parents considering buying their Little League child one of those high-dollar, state-of-the-art bats that can send balls flying out of park at record-setting distances might want to reconsider.

The reassessment is because on Dec. 31, 2010, Little League International placed a moratorium on the use of composite bats in major divisions and below.

Which means, parents who dole out big dough hoping to see their child morph into an Albert Pujols will be wasting their hard-earned cash.

“We don’t want parents spending money they do not need to on a bat that cannot be used,” said Payson Little League officer Felicia Moore.

The banning of certain bats is not unusual on the sports scene where manufacturers scramble to build the most efficient models, hoping they will do big business both online and at sporting good suppliers.

In slow pitch softball, the Town of Payson and two softball-sanctioning associations have in the past banned certain high-octane bats mostly because they are dangerous.

Also, the NCAA rules committee has recommended, at least temporarily, composite bats be removed from competition.

When a ball is struck well by a hitter swinging a composite bat, which often is wrapped in woven graphite, the balls fly off at much higher rates of speed than regular wood or old aluminum models.

In common terminology of baseball players that is called the trampoline effect because the baseball “jumps” off the bat at contact. The stiffer the bat barrel, the slower the baseball comes off and loses energy in the collision. The softer the barrel, the faster the baseball ricochets because it retains the energy applied by the pitcher.

Due to incidents of players, mostly pitchers and infielders, being injured after being hit by balls off composite bats and scientific research risk data from the University of Massachusetts, Little League officials recently decided the technology was beginning to put youths in harm’s way. The test being used by Little League and several governing associations to determine whether a bat can be used is called BESR or Bat Exit Speed Ratio.

The test sets specifications on how fastballs may come off a bat.

The Little League performance standard for division 12-years and below is Bat Performance Factor or BPF.

Presently, no composite bats can be used in Little League major divisions and below. There is, however, a process for manufacturers to gain a waiver for their bats. Officials say they will make public which bats meet standards for major’s baseball if any pass the BESR and BPF tests.

While most are hailing the ban of the high-tech bats, there are those questioning the timing because the announcement came after Christmas and some parents had already spent as much as $300 purchasing a bat as a gift.

“It should have been done at the conclusion of the (2010) season not after Christmas,” said a Little League parent. “I just flushed several hundred dollars down the toilet (on a bat) that they won’t be able to use.”

There are no moratoriums on composite bats in softball.

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