As news starts to flow about the upcoming 2010 NCAA Division 2 baseball schedules for teams of the Northern Sun Conference one little tidbit caught my eye as a big change for the upcoming season.
I noticed it in the announcement of Bemidji State’s 2010 schedule and wrote it off as a mistake but then it was specifically called out in St. Cloud State’s press release –
All conference games this year will be played with one 9-inning game followed by a 7-inning doubleheaders.
Wow! This is actually a big change!
Impact of new rule:
Each team is scheduled to play 16 Conference doubleheaders. Assuming they get all of their games in, this adds an extra 32 innings of play during the season or the equivalent of 4.5 more 7 inning games over the season. The NCAA is mandating that all Division 2 baseball programs transition from 56 maximum games in 2010 to 50 maximum games in 2011. By adding these extra innings at least it will mute a little of the NCAA’s mandate.
An extra 4 innings each weekend adds up to 14% additional innings played. This will stretch each teams pitching staffs a bit more and force managers to make tougher decisions.
Most importantly, I think it might have a strategic impact for head coaches as they make decisions on who to start each game. Do you pitch your #1 guy in a 9 inning or 7 inning game? Most college pitchers don’t throw 9 innings so you may be better off saving your top guy for a game he can go the distance. At the same time, it also means you have to consider match-up issues with what the other coach is planning.
Finally, this could certainly impact a bunch of Northern Sun records. I would expect that 14% more innings should lead to a lot more chances to break individual records in the books now.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out.