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Warranties playing role in bat purchases

Last baseball season, high school and Class B amateur teams had to adjust to wooden bats. It was the first time in years players in either league had to swing something other than metal bats, as officials in both associations decided a change was...

Last baseball season, high school and Class B amateur teams had to adjust to wooden bats.

It was the first time in years players in either league had to swing something other than metal bats, as officials in both associations decided a change was needed.

After a full year of the switch, local retailers are finding wood-composite bats are being purchased more commonly by players than any other wooden bats such as ash, maple or bamboo. Whereas ash and maple bats are carved from a solid piece of wood, wood-composite bats are made up of different wood blends and inner supports.

Harve's Sports Shop and Sun Gold Trophies, two bat retailers in Mitchell, have found most teams are purchasing wood-composite because of the warranty. Harve's Sports Shop owner Jim Johnston estimated 75 percent of the wooden bat sales were wood-composite last year, meaning 75 of 100 bats sold were wood-composite and the remaining 25 were a mix of ash, maple or bamboo.

"Predominantly our business is selling to teams," said Johnston, who chose not to release the total amount of bats his store sold last year for this story. "They want to buy wood-composite because of the warranty."

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Wood-composite bats are known to have a 90- to 120-day warranty, meaning the owner can get money back if the bat breaks. With the high school spring baseball season and amateur seasons lasting a few months, the warranty makes the wood-composite bat worth the price.

The Mitchell spring baseball team is one example that mainly uses the wood-composite bats. Last season, the Kernels used wood-composite bats from companies Baum and DeMarini.

Louisville Slugger is one of the most commonly purchased bats in the area, whether composite or wood, yet DeMarini bats are the top quality at the highest prices. DeMarini bats can sell for up to $200 for a wood-composite bat, whereas other brands of composite bats normally sell for less than $130.

Maple and ash bats, which Mitchell's spring team began using this year, usually sell for a cheaper price than wood-composite or bamboo bats, but ash and maple are not warrantied. Bamboo also come with a warranty.

"Individuals that come in to buy their own, tend to get wood bats," Johnston said, referring to a player who wants to use his own bat instead of the team bat. "But they are careful about who they let use it, because if it breaks, they are out the price they paid."

Johnston said last year was a learning experience for the players and sellers.

"It was a trial year," he said. "There were lots of broken bats, not just from one company, but from several companies."

With a year under their belts, teams from the area are better adjusting to wood bats and how they differ from BBCOR, or aluminum bats that are allowed at the Legion level but not in amateur or high school baseball.

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"We're still learning like everyone else with what bat works best for certain players and ages," said Sun Gold Trophies co-owner Deryk Thomsen, whose company began selling wood bats for the first time this year.

Mitchell spring baseball coach Luke Norden said the type of bat that works best depends on the type of player.

"This year we wanted to get some real wood just to see, and some of our guys say they have more pop than composite," Norden said. "But it's just a personal preference."

Related Topics: BASEBALL
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