Where did all the home runs go? Bats blamed

Offensive numbers have plummeted on baseball diamonds around the Southeastern Conference.

The change to metal bats has reduced the once-gaudy numbers of hits and homers that were synonymous with college baseball.

The game has changed dramatically.

LSU coach Paul Mainieri says "the days of swinging for the fences on every pitch are finished."

The new metal bats must meet a standard - the Ball-Bat Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) - and are supposed to react closer to wood bats.

Across the 12-team SEC, almost every offensive category has dipped compared to a year ago.

Homers have almost dropped in half and scoring is down more than a run per game from this point last season. After a month to adjust, SEC teams begin conference play Friday.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)