College Baseball High Tech Can Send Calls To Mound | Sports news

ERIC OLSON, AP sports writer

When he’s on the mound, Clemson’s left-handed Ryan Ammons will feel a slight tingling in his right hand.

No, nothing wrong. This is not a substitution or cunning.

Instead, it’s a reminder telling him to look at the digital screen on the bracelet to find out what type of square to throw away and where to find it.

For an increasing number of college baseball teams, the tradition of the catcher sending field signs, flashing fingers and waving his hand is disappearing. It is replaced by a coach at the bottom who presses the numbers on the keyboard corresponding to the different step types and passes the information to the mound.

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The vibration in the bracelet lets the pitcher know that the call is coming.

The technology was developed by Game Day Signals, a small software development company in Virginia, and approved by the NCAA for the first time this season.

The push was to speed up the pace of the game, which is a concern throughout the sport. It also eliminates the possibility of an opposing team stealing signals.

“I’m a very fast worker,” said Ammons, a Clemson sophomore. “I love getting the ball and going, so I love it. I was one of the first guys to join him.

Since early April, the signals for the game day have been used by teams from Clemson, Vanderbilt, Alabama, North Carolina State, Virginia, James Madison and Pacific. Teams awaiting orders include the state of Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Penn State and Iowa.

Major League Baseball is experimenting with an electronic communication channel for throwers and catchers. After testing PitchCom’s Low-A West system in the second half of last season, the big league clubs are taking to the technology during spring training. PitchCom is scheduled to be used at the Double-A level this year.

College baseball catchers have traditionally looked at the excavation to take the pitch marks from the coach and then pass them on with another set of finger and hand marks. 2018 The NCAA allowed catchers to have a headset on their helmets to receive coach calls using a walkie-talkie or clip-on microphone.

Using a sign system from the excavation to the mound, the catcher also wears a bracelet to know which site is approaching and where to locate the target, but it plays no role in communication.

“It’s a natural evolution of the game,” said Craig Keilitz, executive director of the American Association of Baseball Coaches. “If it speeds up and makes it easier – and harder to steal signs – do it. I think it’s great. “

The NCAA does not track game times except for the college world series. Over the past four years, CWS games have lasted an average of at least 3 hours and 15 minutes. Since 1996 CWS game time averaged more than three hours, except for two years. Before that, less than three hours of CWS games were the norm.

Variables such as the number of substitutions on the pitch and the number of points can affect the duration of the game, but Clemson field coach Andrew See said he noticed that using the signals of the game day reduces the time between pitches by about three seconds. If both teams used the technology and combined 280 pitches, it would take about 14 minutes.

Game Day Signals tested in 2019. At the Old Dominion Athletic Conference in Virginia Division III, which was approved by the NCAA to use the equipment. Only the catchers wore bracelets and used hand and finger marks to pass the calls to the pitcher. The hunter did not wear the bracelet as the one-way connection between the digger and the players other than the catchers has not yet been confirmed.

Six ODAC teams used the device in a total of 121 nine-pass games with an average duration of 2:45. In a total of 96 nine-inning matches where the device was not used, the average was 2:55.

The technology was developed by Chris Cofer, who played baseball at the STI and was a software developer at the parent company, Blackhawk Enterprise of Waynesboro, Virginia.

Cofer and other Blackhawk software developer Keith Malay launched Game Day Signals in 2018. 2020 After Cofer died, Malay continued to improve the product and helped get it approved by the NCAA Baseball Rules Committee.

Game Day Signals uses encrypted low-frequency radio waves in the 500 to 550-foot range, Malay said, and the battery lasts five to six hours before recharging.

To call the court, the coach usually presses two numbers on his keyboard. For example, “1-1” can mean fast ball, low and far. When the mark is sent, the jug bracelet vibrates. If the pitcher doesn’t like the pitch, he can shake it off as he would with a trap, and the coach sends a new signal.

The use of technology has expanded beyond the excavation to the mound. In Vanderbilt, for example, all nine players on the court wear a bracelet. The coaches ’keyboard can display up to six digits, so combinations of numbers can be used to challenge a selection or make defense adjustments.

Teams were also able to use the technology in the attack to signal theft or hits.

According to Malay, the entire package, which consists of one coach keyboard and 10 player bracelets, costs $ 3,000 to $ 4,000.

Vanderbilt coach Timas Corbin said his players enthusiastically hugged the bracelets when they were taken out in the fall training session.

Clemson’s transition from the old way to the new way was a little slower.

“It simply came to our notice then. “Beginners didn’t like it, so I didn’t have to do it for our starters,” said See. “It simply came to our notice then. Our Bulgarian is much better at the moment than our beginners.

Two of Clemson’s three weekend starters have started using the bracelet in the last week or two. The sole holder is no. 1 starter Mack Anglin and See said he hopes Anglin will catch up soon.

“I think it helped my game so much that I was able to play at the pace I want,” Ammon said, Tigers closer. and hopefully move it to our original pitchers.

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