In a recent study by Amazon Sports Network, it was revealed that the average CBL team goes through an astounding 34,000 baseballs per season, counting both game balls and practice balls.
The Austin Bats, however, go through about 47,000 baseballs per season. Playing in a hitter friendly park with arguably the most powerful lineup in baseball history leads to a lot of souvenirs.
Through 123 games, the appropriately named Austin Bats have hit 244 home runs, nearly 2 a game. The Philadelphia Liberty, possessing the league’s second best record, have hit 116 home runs. The Bats have more than doubled the Liberty, although with both teams excelling it’s clear there are plenty of ways to win in this league.
Even with superstar third baseman Alonzo “Dude” Bennarivo missing nearly 30 games, Austin’s offense is averaging 5.6 runs per game for the entire season. That is incredible. Duane Kowing has emerged as the premier power hitter in all of baseball, and at 26-years-old looks poised to ruin pitcher’s ERAs for the next five plus years.
Originally drafted 6th overall way back in 2024 by the Minneapolis Millers, Kowing was traded the following May in a blockbuster deal that sent Bats ace Bryan Dobzanski to the Millers for Kowing and four other prospects.
Last season, Kowing broke out in a big way, hitting 60 home runs while slashing .303/.368/.712 in just 139 games. This season, Kowing has already hit 48 home runs in just 117 games, adding a .278/.350/.659 slash.
Surrounding The Dude and Kowing, the Bats have several other elite power hitters. Outfielder Reggie Stocker has hit 50+ home runs in back to back seasons and has hit 31 so far this year. Standout catcher Cisco Perez has hit 28 home runs already, while the team is set to welcome back injured outfielder Jack White, who has hit 23 home runs in just 65 games.
So what is the Bats secret? They don’t have a hitting coach.
“We have the best offense to ever play the game,” an anonymous Bats executive says. “Some hitting coach will just ruin that. These guys know enough.”
Now, the Bats have plenty of assistant coaches that help players with hitting, but the official position of “hitting coach” remains vacant in Austin. The players hold themselves accountable, and offer each other tips while watching video day in and day out.
“I wish I could be the hitting coach of those guys,” a rival team’s hitting coach tells me. “You’d be fast tracked to a managerial position. Who knows, maybe teams will try to win without a manager next.”
With the Bats nearing 700 runs scored on the season and on pace to shatter the CBL team home run record, it’s hard to argue with a winning strategy. In a copycat league, several hitting coaches are likely scared that other teams will soon do the same. If the Bats can lead the league without a coach, why does anyone else need one?
Of course, the real answer is that no team has nearly the talent the Bats have on offense. Kowing has a suggestion, though.
“Let Bennarivo do it,” Kowing says, laughing and with the Dude within earshot. “He only plays half the year anyway.”
The Dude laughs, before chirping back that Kowing may hit 75 home runs if he’d just listen to Benna’s advice. All is well in Austin with the league’s best named team.