Serving the High Plains

Aluminum bats to make 2023 return

The New Mexico Activities Association board of directors during its quarterly meeting Wednesday authorized the return of aluminum bats beginning in the 2023 high-school baseball season.

New Mexico, citing safety reasons primarily, in 2012 restricted high school bats to wood or composite wood. Starting in 2023, baseball players can use wood, composite wood, composite metal or aluminum bats.

Kyle Griffiths, coach of defending Class 1A baseball champion Logan, said he was excited about the change.

“I feel like it will provide more offense and allow teams to score more runs,” he said. “Balls jump off an aluminum bat quite a bit more than wood.”

Tucumcari baseball coach Dennis Dysart also welcomed the change, and he said it won’t come soon enough.

“I believe they should have made aluminum bats optional immediately,” he said. “Hardly anyone in high school or college uses wood bats.”

Another long-term effect to school districts for changing to aluminum bats is economic. Metal bats are much more durable than wood bats.

“Wood bats costs over $200 apiece,” Dysart said. “Last year, the team broke over 10 bats, mostly on inside pitches. We then gave some of the players old aluminum bats for batting practice.”

“We probably broke 20 throughout the season,” Griffiths said of wood bats. “We broke five in one day. Just never know with wood.”

In other action:

• The board voted to adopt fully automatic timing for all state-qualifying track and field meets beginning in the 2022-2023 school year.

• The board voted to remove the “clean slate” academic eligibility guidelines for eight-grade students that participate in high-school sports.

• The board voted to schedule all-star games in football, volleyball, basketball and soccer during the school year on a trial basis for 2021-2022.

• NMAA Executive Director Sally Marquez also presented five discussion items, including one for a shot clock in basketball.

Marquez later wrote in an email the proposal for now is a discussion item only because of the “significant” cost involved for shot-clock equipment and training.

“The NFHS is allowing State Associations to use a shot clock beginning in the 22-23 school year if the state would like to implement it,” Marquez wrote.

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