OMAHA, Neb. -- Offensive numbers are down in college baseball because of new bat standards that went into effect this season.
According to NCAA Division I statistics through the end of the regular season May 22, the overall team batting average dropped from .305 last season to .282. Home runs were nearly cut in half, from 0.93 a game to 0.52, and scoring was down from 7.01 runs a game to 5.62. Sacrifice bunts were up from 0.58 a game to 0.75.
Team ERAs went from 5.97 to 4.70, and there were 886 shutouts pitched compared with 525 a year ago.
The new metal bats must meet a standard -- the Ball-Bat Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) -- and are designed to lower ball exit speeds off the bat. The change was made to make the game safer and to tone down a game that had become overly offensive.
In an American Baseball Coaches Association survey taken this spring, 83 percent of Division I coaches either liked the change or found it acceptable.
"The coaches feel it's here to stay, and they're going to adapt to that," ABCA executive director Dave Keilitz said Friday. "Those who didn't like it at first, as the season went on and they got used to it, it became more acceptable to them. I would dare say in another year we won't hear anything about it at all."
INJURY REPORT: South Carolina got some good news and bad news on the injury front.
The good: center fielder Jackie Bradley, the Most Outstanding Player of the 2011 CWS, has been activated after being out the past two months with an injury to his left wrist.
The bad: leadoff batter Evan Marzilli, who moved from left field to center after Bradley got hurt, is day-to-day after tweaking a hamstring Thursday.
Gamecocks coach Ray Tanner said Marzilli (batting .299) insists he'll play Sunday against Texas A&M.
"We'll just have to see where he is the next couple days," Tanner said. "He said, 'Don't think about me not playing. I'll be fine.' We'll just have to wait and see."
Cal, meanwhile, is hopeful it will have starter Justin Jones (9-6, 2.93 ERA) available sometime during the CWS. The sophomore left-hander has a strained left bicep. That leaves Erik Johnson (7-4, 2.91) to start against Virginia on Sunday.
WATER WATCH: Missouri River floodwaters are just a few blocks east of TD Ameritrade Park. Sandbags surround key pieces of infrastructure around the ballpark. A parking lot had water pumped out because a flood-stressed sewer pipe broke.
Dennis Poppe, NCAA vice president for football and baseball, said city officials and engineers have assured him that the CWS should go off without a hitch.
"We've been reassured there are no issues," he said. "You never know what Mother Nature is going to do. But at this point we're in very good shape."
Virginia coach Brian O'Connor, who grew up across the river in Council Bluffs, Iowa, said he was stunned to see the flood devastation north of the ballpark as his team landed in Omaha on Thursday.
"Being from here, looking out the window of the plane as we were approaching the airport, I felt really, really sad," he said. "Just to see the farmland around the airport all washed away, it's terrible for the people here. I know, fortunately, we'll be able to get the College World Series in, but you feel terrible for those people. And (the water) is not going anywhere. It seems like it's going to continue for the summer."
PLEASE PICK US: Local fans typically adopt an underdog to root for, and Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin hopes his team is the one this year.
"I would imagine knowing the crowd out there they always pull for first-timers, so I'm sure that California and Vanderbilt will be two teams that they'll be pulling for," he said. "And that's not all bad. Even if they don't, it's very bipartisan crowds, so it'll be nice."
Corbin likened the experience to an amusement park.
"It's like a roller coaster we've never ridden before," he said. "Texas has, so they might not white-knuckle it as much as other teams would. But I told the kids that our situation will be different because we trust our training, we trust each other and we have a routine. And because of that that means you have a seat belt on the roller coaster you're not going to have to white-knuckle it. You can throw your arms in the air and play."
AGGIE-LOVING HUSKER FANS?: Rob Childress was pitching coach for the three Nebraska teams that made it to the CWS in 2001-02 and 2005, and now he's head coach for the Texas A&M team that's making its first Omaha appearance since 1999.
"The eight years I spent at Nebraska are some of the best years of my life, and I could have been there forever," Childress said. "It was No. 1 about the university and No. 2 about baseball, but the friends that we made there are going to last a lifetime.
"I know we're going to have a lot of people with red undershirts and maroon over the top supporting us."