Home runs at a premium this season

Area softball players have shown more power than their baseball counterparts
By: Justin A. Lawson Journal Sports Writer
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When Alyssa Reina swings through a ball her form is textbook, a smooth motion all the through the ball that looks so refined it?s become natural. Opposing pitchers have almost become accustomed to seeing the ball go the opposite way of their pitch when they face the Bear River High senior, who boasts a .618 batting average. Reina is also the area?s leader in home runs with six on the year, a number that may seem small but is three times as many as her counterparts in baseball, who have seen a decrease in production over the last two years thanks to new, less powerful bats. But if you ask Reina about what it takes to hit a home run she doesn?t even mention her bat. ?To me it?s not about your bat, it?s mostly about your swing,? said Reina, who will play at North Dakota State next season. ?If you get all the power from your body in your swing, you?re going to have a home run. For a girl, it takes their hips, their legs, their arms, their core, it takes everything.? Reina is followed by Del Oro?s Whitney Smith with five home runs on the season. Their numbers look lofty compared to baseball where Placer junior Eddie Vanderdoes has only three. Power shots may came easier to someone of Vanderdoes? size, the 6-foot-3, 295-pounder is a hot football prospect with offers from most top Division I schools like Alabama, Cal and USC, but the new Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution bats have robbed him of power over the last two seasons they?ve been in effect. ?It?s a lot harder,? Vanderdoes said. ?You have to be more of a hitter; you have to go the other way. With the old bats, freshman year I used the ?Blue Stealth? and it had awesome power and the barrel was a lot bigger too. You could almost slap anything and it would go. This year and last year with the new BBCOR bats you kind of have to strategize how you?re going to hit. You?ve got to go with the pitch, you can?t just pull everything. ?I actually like the BBCOR bats, it?s taught me to be a better hitter.? Softball hasn?t dealt with the loss in power like baseball has. Reina had eight homers last season and Smith belted just three. Some attributed the higher frequency of homers in softball to the shorter fences ? about 200 feet compared to 300 feet in baseball ? others to the large ball, but that is likely equaled out by the shorter distance between the pitching circle versus the pitcher?s mound in baseball. ?We?re only 33 feet away and baseball is I don?t even know how far away (60 feet, 6 inches) but they have more time to react,? Smith said. ?We have to realize the pitch and turn fast. It has to be a split-second decision.? With home runs now at a rarity, they have become more meaningful. In games that Reina, Smith and Vanderdoes have hit home runs their teams are a combined 10-3. Not all of the home runs have determined the outcome of the game but many have helped perk up the bats in the rest of the order. ?I think anybody hitting a home run is pumping up your team, especially on offense,? Reina said. ?If you?re down and somebody hits a home run, the next batter up there is thinking, ?I can do this. If Alyssa can do this, I can do this.? And then it?s just kind of a chain reaction after that.?