Since the BBCOR certification standard has been implemented, wood bats are making a comeback in NCAA play. For many umpires, the idea of wood bats sounds simple because we all know wood bats are legal in NCAA play, right? Well, not exactly. Bat manufacturers are now offering "wood" bats that look like solid wood, but may not be legal for NCAA play.
Wood Bats (Rule 1-12(a))
The NCAA baseball rulebook describes a legal wood bat. A wood bat must a “smooth, rounded stick” that is less than 2 ¾ inches in diameter and less than 42 inches long. The wood bat must be straight. A grip may be used, but cannot extend more than 18 inches from the end of the handle, where an identification mark is required. A wood bat can have a cupped end up to one inch in depth. One piece wood bats are not required to be certified by the NCAA. Below is a picture of a one piece wood bat made of maple wood that does not have the NCAA certifying mark on the barrel. This bat is legal.
Two (or more) piece wood bats are required to have the NCAA certifying mark on the barrel. Wood-like bats come in several varieties, like wood composite bats, hybrid bats, and bamboo (note that bamboo is a grass, not a wood). These bats may look like single piece wood bats. Below is a picture of a composite bat that does not have the NCAA certifying mark (currently the BBCOR certification). This bat is illegal.
Below is a picture of a hybrid bat made of maple wood and bamboo that is stamped with the BBCOR certification on the barrel. This bat is legal.
Penalty For Illegal Bat
The NCAA penalty for using an illegal bat is simple: remove the bat, not the player. If the illegal bat is detected after one pitch has been thrown, the batter is out and no runner may advance. Note that the batter is not called out for using a bat that has a loose knob, no safety grip, excessive pine tar, is dented or bent, etc. In these cases the bat is simply removed from the game and any result stands.