Strikeouts on upswing entering College World Series

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Strikeouts on upswing entering College World Series
FILE - In this Friday, June 8, 2018, file photo, Minnesota's Terrin Vavra, right, reacts after striking out as Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman, left, heads to the dugout in the first inning of an NCAA college baseball tournament super regional game in Corvallis, Ore. The number of strikeouts in college baseball is the highest on record entering the College World Series. Coaches say conditions are right for strikeouts. They say the pitching has never been better in college baseball and the focus on launch angles and exit velocities make batters more prone to striking out. (Mark Ylen/Albany Democrat-Herald via AP)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Strikeout numbers are the highest on record in college baseball with the College World Series set to begin later this week.

The 297 Division I teams have combined to average 7.88 strikeouts per nine innings this season. That is the highest figure in NCAA records dating to 1970 and a huge 21.6 percent increase since 2014.

Pitching staffs for forty-one teams — including CWS participants North Carolina, Mississippi State and Arkansas — average at least nine strikeouts per nine innings. That’s up from 16 teams in 2016 and from just one in 2012.

Six pitchers in the CWS average 10 or more strikeouts per nine innings, led by Oregon State’s Kevin Abel and Luke Heimlich.

What’s happening in the college game mirrors the major leagues, where strikeouts are on track to set a record for the 11th straight year.

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AP Sports Writers Cliff Brunt, Joedy McCreary and Steve Megargee contributed.

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For more AP CWS coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/CollegeWorldSeries