Hitting Discipline Paying Off For College Teams

Editor/Collegiate Baseball
© 2013 Collegiate Baseball

INDIANAPOLIS — How are college teams adapting to the BBCOR specification bats after using them for 2 ½ seasons?

While they have substantially less pop than the old BESR certified bats, many successful teams have utilized the technique of being highly disciplined during at-bats and going deep into counts.

This has resulted in an incredible number of walks for these teams which represent base runners and ultimately runs.

When more hitter’s pitches are demanded by batters, pitchers tend to get tired quicker and more mistakes take place which are then hit by these successful teams hard. Ultimately, run production has a chance to be outstanding with this system in place.

The first NCAA Division I baseball statistics of the season were released through games of March 3. Collegiate Baseball looked at the top 23 teams that had the most walks in the nation by their hitters.

And amazingly, 10 of 23 had one or no losses this season.

Here is a rundown on those 10 teams which includes their national ranking, record and number of walks):

  • 1. Central Arkansas (11-1, 104 walks).
  • 2. Mercer (11-1, 89 walks).
  • T-5. Vanderbilt (12-1, 73 walks).
  • T-5 Florida St. (10-0, 73 walks).
  • 8. Virginia (12-0, 70 walks).
  • 10. Oregon St. (12-0, 67 walks).
  • 14. North Carolina (10-0, 63 walks).
  • 16. Mississippi St. (15-0, 62 walks).
  • T-18. Georgia Tech. (11-1, 60 walks).
  • 23. North Carolina St. (10-1, 57 walks).

If you look at the top run producing teams in NCAA Division I through March 3, the top five in the nation are from the above list.

  • T-1. Virginia (119 runs in 12 games).
  • T-1. Central Arkansas (119 runs in 12 games).
  • 3. Mercer (117 runs in 12 games).
  • 4. Vanderbilt (116 runs in 13 games).
  • 5. Georgia Tech. (115 runs in 12 games).

The other five teams listed which have high walk numbers and had one or no losses all have superb run production numbers. They include:

  • Mississippi St. (eighth in the USA with 108 runs over 15 games).
  • North Carolina St. (13th with 99 runs in 11 games).
  • North Carolina (16th with 97 runs over 10 games).
  • Florida St. (18th with 93 runs in 10 games).
  • Oregon St. (32nd with 81 runs in 12 games).

Gary Ward, considered the Godfather of discipline when it comes to training hitters in this technique, practiced these concepts with his Oklahoma State teams for 19 years during the 1978-1996 seasons. Nbody taught this technique better than him. His teams walked more than any school in NCAA history which allowed the on-base percentage to shoot through the roof. And it was no coincidence that his offenses led all NCAA Division I teams in run production six times.

In the Jan. 25, 2013 issue of Collegiate Baseball, Ward went into detail about the importance of being disciplined in hitting.

Through discipline, the walk has played a vital role in scoring runs. “The walk has always been important,” said Ward. “It isn’t about taking pitches. A lot of people get confused about going out and taking a bunch of pitches. The reality is that you must value being disciplined at the plate.”

“The great majority of athletes, if you can teach them their zone within the strike zone, can have enough athleticism and bat speed to cover that with some ability.

“So we have always worked very hard at reducing the zone down and used terms like ‘shorten the look’ or ‘center the ball more.’ “

Through his 19 years at Oklahoma State, Cowboy hitters had a superb walk-strikeout ratio with 9,001 walks and 6,916 strikeouts.

For More On This Story: Read the rest of the story, including Gary Ward’s analysis on this trend, in the March 22, 2013 edition of Collegiate Baseball newspaper. Individual copies can be purchased for $3 each. Please see Subscriptions for more information about ordering.