A little power will have to go a long way this season.

The University of Maine baseball team has a team batting average of .267 heading into its America East Conference opener this weekend at Stony Brook, the coaches’ preseason pick to repeat as conference champion.

The Black Bears (9-16), along with every college program in the nation, are adjusting to new bat specifications mandated by the NCAA to increase safety.

“These bats are tremendously different,” said Maine Coach Steve Trimper. “The averages (and) power numbers are looking like the (pitcher-dominated) Cape Cod League.

So, the teams that can limit the walks, mistakes and errors are going to succeed. It’s really turned into small-ball (offense) much more than I ever imagined.”

The new bats must meet what is called the Ball-Bat Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR), which according to the NCAA provides a better measure of a bat’s performance.

The intent is to limit the ball’s exit speed off the bat, which ultimately makes the game safer.

In layman’s terms, it means they’ve been engineered to hit more like a wooden bat.

Basically, the sweet spot is smaller, said Trimper, and the traditional pop that launches the ball farther is lessened.

Maine already has seen a drop in its power numbers. Last year at this time, the Black Bears had 37 home runs compared with just seven this year.

“They basically toned down the bats. They act like wood,” said Trimper.

“So, we’ve had to change our offense. We’re working on bunting, the hit and run. But everybody is dealing with it, so it’s very fair.

“It really puts an emphasis on pitching and defense and small ball.”

Players report a noticeable change.

“You don’t want to change your swing, but you definitely want to change your approach,” said first baseman Joey Martin, who also plays right field.

“Maybe with a guy on first base, no outs, we might’ve hit away last season. This year we have to play small ball, think about bunting.

“I would say it’s a major change, but it’s still the same game.”

Ultimately, said Trimper, it means good pitching will be at a premium.

“Since the second half of our Florida trip we’ve really, really pitched extremely well,” said Trimper.

At the Division III level, the difference might not be as pronounced.

University of Southern Maine Coach Ed Flaherty said it’s not as bad as he anticipated.

“When I first heard about this I was a little concerned and thought ‘Geez, there’s going to be no offense,’” said Flaherty. “But we haven’t noticed a huge difference.

“I know this. When they hit the ball right, it goes. I think the difference is you won’t quite see as many cheap hits.”

ST. JOSEPH’S

The baseball team is 11-8, 2-0 in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference, after losing 5-3 at Colby on Friday.

Three players are averaging better than .400 at the plate: infielder Mike Pratt (.448), outfielder Todd Keneborus (.435) and utility infielder Chris Campbell (.410).

The softball team is 14-6, 5-3 in the GNAC, and has three players averaging better than .400: Outfielder Danyelle Shufelt is hitting .438, first baseman Alyssa Dunn .414 and outfielder Emily Leverone .404.

The Monks swept a doubleheader Friday against Emmanuel.

The athletic department will hold a dedication ceremony today to rename Ward Park to Richard W. Bailey Field in honor of longtime coach Dick Bailey, who was dean of students at St. Joseph’s for 16 years and rejoined the softball staff as an assistant coach last fall.

In 11 seasons as head coach at St. Joseph’s, Bailey had 244 wins, six conference championships, four NAIA New England championships and one NAIA Northeast championship. His teams won 20 or more games nine times.

The dedication takes place at 10 a.m. followed by a reception at the field at 11.

The Monks play a doubleheader against Rivier starting at 1 p.m.

UNIVERSITY OF NEW ENGLAND

Softball catcher Ashley Gott of Winterport was named UNE athlete of the month for March after helping the Nor’easters to 15 wins.

She hit .492 (30 for 61) with eight doubles, 21 runs scored, 15 runs batted in and eight stolen bases, and she had a 12-game hitting streak.

UNE is 8-0 in The Commonwealth Coast Conference.

Lacrosse attack Tyler Thomas was named conference co-player of the week after totaling 18 points in three wins last week.

Thomas had four goals in a 22-0 win against Regis, five goals in a 13-10 win against Wheaton and four in a 10-7 win against Nichols.

BOWDOIN

Men’s hockey players Kyle Shearer-Hardy and Daniel Weiniger were named Division II/III All Stars by the New England Hockey Writers Association this week.

They led Bowdoin to a 19-8-1 season, the school’s first NESCAC championship and first win in the NCAA tournament.

Shearer-Hardy had nine goals and 29 assists, fifth among Division III players.

Weiniger led the NESCAC in scoring with 20 goals and 25 assists, and had 10 power-play goals.

The baseball team (9-5) will close its regular season on May 8 against St. Joseph’s. The game originally was scheduled for this week but was postponed because of the weather.

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MAINE

The baseball team is awaiting a medical evaluation of pitcher Chris Bernard, who injured his elbow last weekend. Bernard was the Huskies’ No. 1 starter.

“He might be in trouble for the year, which would be a bummer,” said Coach Ed Flaherty. “But he’s being evaluated. We’ll see where he goes from there.”

Weather and playing conditions have changed next week’s schedule for the Huskies.

A game scheduled Sunday against Wheaton has been cancelled, and the time of a Little East Conference game Tuesday at Massachusetts-Boston has been moved to 6:30 p.m.

And a nonconference game Thursday against St. Joseph’s has been moved to 4 p.m. Monday, April 18.

The Huskies and Monks will meet again two days later with a 4 p.m. game at USM.

SOUTHERN MAINE CC

The softball team will resume its schedule by kicking off an eight-game homestand with a doubleheader against Central Maine Community College today at noon.

Four games were postponed because of weather and playing conditions.

The Seawolves (9-13, 4-0 YSCC) won the Northeast Conference championship last fall.

Kim Hunt of Oakland pitched a no-hitter on March 26 in an 8-0 victory against Vermont Technical College. She had 11 strikeouts.

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:

[email protected]