Behind the scenes of DeMarini's partnership with ASU baseball

ASU baseball will use customized Demarini bats during the 2015 season. (Photo Courtesy of Demarini) ASU baseball will use customized Demarini bats during the 2015 season. (Photo Courtesy of Demarini)

ASU baseball has been a partner with Wilson/DeMarini since 2003, outfitting the Sun Devils with gloves and, new this year, customized bats.

To give fans a behind-the-scenes look at how ASU worked with DeMarini to become just the fourth school (including LSU, Tennessee and defending national champion Vanderbilt) to receive the custom treatment from the bat company, The State Press spoke with Brendan Cunningham, ASU baseball's director of operations.

"We work very closely with Wilson and DeMarini, and they call us one of their 'premiere schools,'" Cunningham said. "They came out this summer after (Coach Tracy Smith) was hired and showed us some designs and what they wanted to do with the bats."

Recruiting is extremely competitive on the West Coast, with the Pac-12, Big West and Mountain West schools all converging over the same territory for prospects.

Being associated with an iconic brand can give a team an edge.

"It's great from a recruiting standpoint, because recruits come out here and see the 'A-S' on the handle of the bat, or a maroon and gold bat that you can't even buy in a store," Cunningham said.

Bats are flashy, but the leather is just as important.

"On the (Wilson A2000) gloves, there's a pitchfork with the player's number," Cunningham said. "It's fun for our players, because every fall, Wilson sends out an executive to do a 'glove day,' like they do with their major league players, and the guys go online and design their own glove themselves, and pick the laces, and the webbing. It's pretty unique."

(Photo Courtesy of DeMarini) (Photo Courtesy of DeMarini)

The State Press also spoke with Ali Brewer, Wilson Baseball/Softball Marketing Director.

The State Press: What went into designing the bats, and how did DeMarini go about the process of determining which schools were selected for the custom bats?

Ali Brewer: We chose colors based on school colors. The bats are the same high-performance models they would normally use, just with ASU specific custom details in the paint and end caps/knobs. Schools were selected based on being the top-performing teams that use Wilson and DeMarini equipment exclusively. ASU has been a partner with us for years, and they immediately rose to the top of the list of which schools to provide these for.

SP: Did ASU or the other schools have input in regards to the design and/or the look and feel of the bat? What kind of communication did it take to allow the deal to take place?

AB: Because the site wasn’t launched and this was a completely new-to-the-baseball-world capability, our internal team determined the design of ASU and other team bats. The goal was to pleasantly surprise our best partners and create awareness of our capabilities and commitment to the programs. In the future, we hope to allow players to personalize their own bat like we allow them to do on other products like gloves (Wilson A2000’s).

SP: Since the BBCOR (Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution) standards have been implemented, how has that affected the thought behind designing certain bats, because some can be better for contact, power, or even bunting (like the Little League World Series, for example). Is there an opportunity to do this on the college level, or is it already being done?

AB: BBCOR is the standard for college and high school bats. Research & Development elements that allow differentiation from manufacturer to manufacturer include making bats lighter swinging, more forgiving on off-center hits, larger areas on the barrel that perform at the maximum allowable standards and more attractive cosmetically. We feel we’ve always nailed the performance side of the way bats can behave. This site now gives us a chance to ensure we’re meeting consumer needs in helping them create a bat that looks just as they want as well.

Reach the reporter at smodrich@asu.edu or on Twitter @StefanJModrich.

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