Beaufort News

Legion teams getting adjusted to new bat regulations

After some initial confusion and resistance, American Legion baseball teams appear to be adjusting to a new rule regarding legality of bats.

American Legion baseball this season moved to match a recent rule by college baseball requiring bats to meet the Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) standard, a tougher test than the Ball Exit Speed Ratio (BESR) previously used. BESR bats are allowed under Legion rules only if they contain no composite. Wood bats are also allowed.

Most BESR bats used during this past high school season featured composite handles, said Chris Wells, baseball coach at Hilton Head High and for the Lowcountry Heat.

The new rule has led to coaches questioning the legality of bats during games. Beaufort Ospreys coach Bryan Thompson protested a bat used by a West Ashley player during a June 7 game, and the umpire ruled the game revert back to the second inning. West Ashley won 15-0.

A Summerville coach asked the umpire to check an Ospreys player's bat during a game last week. The skepticism has been part of American Legion competition throughout the season, but appears to be waning.

Goose Creek pitcher Daniel Huskey said earlier this month that some of his teammates have been hesitant to make the switch.

"Some people are still using the old bats, just because they don't want to give up the home runs yet," Huskey said on June 9. "You have to be pretty strong to hit with those BBCOR bats."

Thompson said the purpose of the new rule was safety and that he enjoyed the lower-scoring games the different technology promotes. The Ospreys lost a 19-16 slugfest with Summerville early in the season, when teams were still using the non-conforming bats.

"When you have 145-pound kids out here jacking home runs, it takes the fun out of the game," Thompson said. "A 2-1 game, a 3-2 game is a much better baseball game than 19-16."

HEAT BATS STARTING TO WARM UP

The Lowcountry Heat's pitching staff has lived up to its preseason billing, holding opponents to five runs or fewer in eight of the previous nine contests.

The lineup, however, has seen its share of ups and downs during the League 1 schedule. But it appears to be heating up just in time.

The Heat halted a two-game losing streak Friday with an 8-4 win against West Ashley. Five different players had at least two hits in the victory. And after scoring five runs or fewer in six of seven games, the Heat have totaled 17 runs in their last two games.

"We're certainly hitting the ball better," coach Chris Wells said. "We're starting to get some guys back, which has helped. We're just playing better baseball."

Charlie Wilkins returned to the lineup Friday after a four-game absence and had a two-hit night. The Heat expect to add Michael Haven back to the roster this week. The 3-hole hitter has missed four games.

Follow The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette's sports department at twitter.com/IPBGSports.

BEAUFORT OSPREYS

Player of the week: Weber Pike, third baseman -- The future Gamecock drove in five runs during the week, including three RBIs to help defeat Summerville and snap the Ospreys' four-game losing streak.

Last week's results (1-1): Def. Summerville 13-3, lost at Goose Creek 15-3.

This week's schedule: Today at Summerville, Tuesday host Lowcountry Heat, Thursday host West Ashley, Friday at West Ashley

LOWCOUNTRY HEAT

Player of the week: DeAnte Scott, utility player -- The Heat's No. 2 hitter did his job as a table-setter this week, reaching base safely five times in the previous two games.

Last week's results (1-2): Lost to Goose Creek 4-2, lost to Summerville 14-9, def. West Ashley 8-4.

This week's schedule: Today at Goose Creek, Tuesday at Beaufort

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