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A BIG HIT: Edwards takes science fair project to state

When Cade Edwards isn’t in the classroom at Pike Liberal Arts School, the odds are he’s somewhere practicing or playing baseball. So when the opportunity came to do a science fair project, he knew what he wanted to do.

Edwards chose to apply the scientific method to test the exit speed of a baseball when hit by three different bats, inspired by Dixie Youth’s decision to switch from the use of USSSA stamped bats to USA stamped bats to reduce exit speed.

“The ball was coming off too fast,” Edwards said. “There were 17 deaths (from 1991 to 2001) and over half of them were off aluminum bats.

“The recent changes to youth bats (were) made in an attempt to make the game safer by reducing the ‘trampoline effect’ or ball exit speed of aluminum or composite bats and making them more like that of a wood bat,” Edwards explained in the essay portion of his project. “The idea was that a bat that produced a lower trampoline effect would make the game safer because the hit baseball would not be coming back at the players in the field as fast as before.”

Edwards said he was testing to see how much the change actually reduced exit speed.

To do so, he took a USSSA stamped bat, a USA stamped bat and a wood bat and hit 14 balls with each bat, measuring the exit speed each time with a radar gun.

According to his results, there isn’t much difference.

“I learned that, as expected, the USSSA stamped bat has the highest ball exit velocity of the three bat types tested. The difference between the USSSA stamped bat and the USA stamped bat was not as significant as I expected, though. The USA stamped bat ball exit velocity was … .5 miles per hour slower on average (than the USSSA stamped bat). The wood bat ball exit velocity was … 3.6 miles per hour slower on average (than the USSSA stamped bat).”

Edwards explained that a 1 mph difference in exit speed translates to just 5 feet less of distance travelled.

“My bat comparison project was successful and made me realize that the new bats would not affect my hitting as much as I thought it would,” Edwards said.

Edwards said he was shocked at the district tournament when they announced that his project had come in first place.

Now with the state science fair tomorrow at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Edwards is swinging for the fences in hopes to once again take home the trophy.