Arkansas coach: Need harder ball
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn has reservations about the new baseball the college game plans to use beginning in 2015.
Speaking at the Razorbacks' media day Friday, Van Horn said the new ball -- which features flatter seams -- is only a start on the path toward using the same baseball the professionals use.
"I think it's going to be the same ball with flat seams," Van Horn said. "We need to use a flat-seamed ball that's a little harder."
The NCAA Division I baseball committee voted unanimously in November to allow conferences to adopt the new ball for regular-season play next year. The ball, shown by researchers to fly farther, will be used during the NCAA baseball tournament in 2015.
A raised-seam ball is now used in the college game.
Dialed-back bats were put into play in 2011, leading to a drop in offense to levels not seen since the wooden-bat era before 1974. An American Baseball Coaches Association survey last fall found that 87 percent of coaches who responded wanted to make the change in balls.
"We're not using the rock baseball that they use in the big leagues or in the minor leagues," Van Horn said. "The bats aren't too bad, to be honest with you. That ball's the issue.
"If we used the big league ball, we'd be fine. Because it's a little golf ball is what it is, or a big golf ball."
At last year's College World Series, there were three home runs hit in 14 games -- the fewest since there were two in 1966. The .234 CWS batting average was the lowest since it was .227 in 1974, the year metal bats replaced wood.
Van Horn said his primary concern about the lack of offense is that the recent surge in the game's popularity will be affected by dwindling scoring.
"I just don't want fans running off because the game's getting boring," Van Horn said. "I love bunting and defense and small ball, but I don't want people leaving in the seventh inning when you're down three because they think you can't hit a three-run homer anymore.
"That's a little bit of my fear for the future of the game."