Pitching dominated last year’s tournament, when hurlers combined for four shutouts in 14 games. In addition, there were six games where losing teams scored only one run.
If tinkering with the bats took too much offense out of the game, a rule adopted for the 2015 college season may be the way to inject more hitting and scoring into it. The change is small, but the impact could be big.
Next year college teams will replace the raised-seam ball with a flat-seam ball. Researchers have noted that the flat-seam ball travels farther and faster than the raised-seem, perhaps by as much as 10 to 20 feet in the same conditions. The reason, they believe, is that the flat-seam ball faces less wind resistance.
One thing that hasn’t changed much is that teams from the warmer climates dominate the field. In this year’s College World Series, three teams will hail from Texas — Texas, Texas Tech and Texas Christian. Snow and ice aren’t a concern at University of California — Irvine and Mississippi when their spring seasons roll around, either. Meanwhile, the three other teams all reside south of the Mason-Dixon line — Vanderbilt, Louisville and Virginia.
The growing popularity of college baseball can be traced to several factors. One of the biggest was the decision by ESPN and other conference networks to televise games. Exposure helps. Many colleges have also invested in new stadiums and practice facilities.
While basketball has suffered from one-and-done rules that allow freshmen to turn pro just a year out of high school, Major League Baseball operates differently. High school graduates are eligible to sign a pro contract, but once they enter college they can’t be drafted again until after their third year. That gives college coaches more experienced, seasoned players to work into their starting lineups.