Valdosta Daily Times

Top Sports News

June 12, 2014

Loading up with Lumber

Wildcats getting most out of wood bats this summer

VALDOSTA — With a summer full of playing travel ball in addition to games with Valdosta High, a number of the Wildcats are going old school.

Gone — for the summer anyway — is the ping of swinging aluminum, replaced by wood.

“I try to swing wood in the summer because it’s a little heavier bat and a little bit harder sweet spot to hit with,” Valdosta’s Craig Barry said, who started on the mound before also playing right field Wednesday at Bazemore Field.

“If you’re swinging with it on the tee or in the cage, it really helps with your strength.”

It didn’t slow down the Wildcats, who defeated visiting Cook 7-3 with their wood-bat attack.

Barry is far from alone in swinging wood this summer. Logan Stephens, Seth Shuman, Brennan Goodson, Jacob McMillan and Richard Moseley — all regulars for the Wildcats during their Class AAAAAA quarterfinal season this past spring — were all swinging wood bats as well, in addition to some of the Wildcats trying to find their roles.

To Valdosta coach Bart Shuman, going with wood instead of aluminum is perfectly OK.

“Most all of them are playing travel ball of some sort and they’re just trying to stay with it,” he said. “It’s tougher to hit than the BBCOR, but if they want to hit with them that’s fine with me.

“It’s good practice.”

And while swinging wood is different. It doesn’t take long to get acclimated, according to Barry. In fact the Wildcats’ cleanup hitter prefers the challenge the wood bat provides with its smaller sweet spot and heavier nature.

“Most of the summer ball tournaments we go to with Chain (out of Savannah), we swing with wood because that’s what everybody’s looking at,” Barry said. “BBCOR is just a little bit different, but it’s just something I prefer.

“If you hit one into the gap and they cut it off and hold you to a single with a wood bat, sometimes with an aluminum bat that’s a double standing up. It just shows true hitters. Like weak groundballs on the infield, if you’re swinging wood it’s probably just a little easier play because it’s not hit as hard.”

Sometimes that can be a benefit as well as two Valdosta hitters reached base Wednesday on bloop singles that likely carry to the outfield off an aluminum bat.

Shuman also is a fan of the way wood bats changes the game.

“You’ve got to really hit it right on the button if you want to get a hit,” he said. “And also defensively, I like it, because you get a lot more groundballs and more defensive plays.”

Plus it provides a change — an improvement — for the Wildcats down the road.

“It’s a little more end loaded so you’ve got to keep your hands in,” Barry said. “I feel like it’s not heavier but the weight distribution, it helps you. It shows true hitters.”

Text Only
Top Sports News
  • 150723-Lowndes_Brooks5.jpg Winding Down

    In its final 7-on-7 test of the summer, Randy McPherson was pleased with how the Lowndes football team looked Wednesday morning.
    Brooks County coach Maurice Freeman, on the other hand, was worried about the kind of hole the Trojans would have dug for themselves at Martin Stadium against the Vikings and Lafayette (Fla.) had it been a real game.

    July 24, 2014 3 Photos

  • Grable signs with Tampa Bay

    Another former Valdosta State football player joined the ranks of the National Football League when linebacker Jeremy Grable signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday morning.

    July 23, 2014

  • MaryAlice.jpg Just Keep Running

    Forrest Gump once said, "I used to run to get to where I was going, but I never thought it would take me anywhere." In the case of 18 year-old Mary Alice Smoot, anywhere is Tampa, Fla.
    After four years of unparalleled success running cross-country at Valwood, Smoot will continue running competitively next season at the University of Tampa.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 10U ELITE World Series Champs.jpg DKSA Elite win USSSA Global World Series

    DKSA ELITE just continues to win, the 10U team’s latest victory came in the USSSA Global World Series held in Destin, Fla. July 8-12.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Valwood.jpg A Different Look

    With football summer workouts in full swing, occasionally the intensity and competitive drive can wane going against teammates. But on Friday, Valwood, Brookwood, Lanier County and Tiftarea Academy broke up the monotony by meeting at Goddard Field for a four-team, 7-on-7 passing league.

    July 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • pilcher.jpg Berrien competes in 6-team passing camp

    If Ed Pilcher had his way, Berrien High would never throw the football.
    But that doesn't mean the veteran coach doesn't enjoy the opportunity that a passing league, or the six-team passing camp at Cairo on Thursday morning, can provide his Rebels.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bubba Walker promoted to defensive coordinator

    Valdosta State Linebacker Coach Bubba Walker has been promoted to fill the open posiiton of defensive coordinator for the Blazer football team according to an announcement made by VSU Head Coach David Dean Thursday.

    July 18, 2014

  • Albritton wins NCAA Elite 89

    Courtney Albritton's tremendous 2013-2014 season earned her one more award Thursday night when the Valdosta State softball star won the NCAA's Favorite Elite 89 Winner contest by securing the more votes than any other student-athlete.

    July 17, 2014

  • Justin Roper named Valdosta State quarterbacks coach

    Valdosta State’s hirin of Justin Roper as quarterbacks coach, previously reported by The Times, was officially announced by the school and Blazer head football coach David Dean on Wednesday.

    July 17, 2014

  • Lowndes_Tville 2.jpg Sneak Preview

    Fall practice doesn’t start for another eight days.
    Still, Lowndes High and Thomasville High got a sneak preview of what Friday nights will look like Wednesday morning at Martin Stadium.

    July 17, 2014 2 Photos

Top News

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results