HARTFORD--Using a wooden bat may seem quaint for today's kids, but the change from wooden bats to aluminum bats on little league fields has come with a high price.
Aluminum bats pack a much higher punch. Central Connecticut State University physics professor Dr. Sadu Nanjundiah says that on a pitch thrown at 80 mph, "the outgoing ball for wood is about 90 mph," but "for aluminium, it is about 100 mph."
The danger has caused some serious injuries, including one right here in Connecticut. Last August, Zach Hoffman, a 13-year-old from South Windsor, took a line drive to his left eye while playing third base for his town's team in the little league state finals. The injury meant he needed 30 sutures across his eye, which had to be put back together, and eventually the damage cost him his vision in his left eye.
After incidents like the one that happened to Zach have popped up across the country, bat companies have taken steps to make the equipment safer.
The BBCOR Bat cuts down on the "trampoline effect" of aluminum and composite bats, which is a term used to describe how the ball easily bounces off of those bats. The bats are more similar to wood, but not quite the same.
High schools and colleges around the country, as well as some youth leagues like the AAU, have begun adopting BBCOR Bats, but the little league hasn't quite caught up yet.
Part of the danger of little league kids using aluminum bats is that the diamond is smaller, meaning the more powerful hits traveling so fast can have a much higher impact if they hit one of the kids in the outfield.
All softball players continue to play with aluminum, as do many little leagues. However, starting this season South Windsor, Zach's old team, will be playing as an all-wood team.