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August 12, 2006

Softball scene: Return to wood bat necessary for slow-pitch game

TERRE HAUTE — With the steady decline in the number of adult softball teams, I thought it time to pontificate regarding needed changes. Knowing more about the slow-pitch game, my suggestions, as farfetched as they may be, would certainly result in changes for that particular variety of softball.

It’s time to return to the wood bat era. The technology of today’s equipment has caused the game irreparable harm.

The most serious consequence for many teams is cost. With the average price in the hundreds of dollars, keeping pace with your competition’s equipment is extremely costly. A return to wood bats would cure this ill immediately.

Another function of the suggested change would place a greater premium on defense. With today’s bats and the speed of the ball off the bat, it is increasingly difficult to play sound defense. The ball gets by the infielders too quickly to make defensive plays, the net result being increasing scores and prolonged games. Wood bats would return defense to the game.

The last issue is safety. Just ask slow pitch pitchers how many close calls they have had dodging line drives off bats of opposing players. Wood bats would allow slow-pitch pitchers to safely field their positions once again.

Naysayers will quickly respond that wood bats are unavailable. In response, I rely on the classic conservative economic response: Let the market forces prevail. If there is a demand for wood bats, that demand will be met.

Therefore, I appeal to the Amateur Softball Association to offer a wood bat state tournament in 2007. Let’s move away from glorified home-run derby contests and in the direction of a more well-rounded game that can be played by a greater number of participants.

What say you?

I I I

A couple local teams ventured to Perrysville this past weekend for the always popular Perrysville Invitational.

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