GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — East Carolina baseball coaches will have a new way of calling pitches this season.

Seeking to improve the pace of play and deter sign-stealing, a growing number of college baseball teams have started using watches as pitch-signaling devices. The NCAA approved the use of such one-way communication devices in 2021.

ECU pitching coach Austin Knight said the Pirates started implementing the system last fall. All nine players on the field wear watches and receive signals.

“Now we have watches where basically I have a calculator in my hand and I just type in a number and it goes straight to all the watches, to all the players on the field,” Knight said. “It’s taken away all of the sign stealing. Now of course we still have to do a good job of pitchers concealing pitches, and the catchers doing a good job of not giving location and different things like that.

“For practice, it’s simplified things a lot, because we don’t have to work through night signs, we don’t have to work through all the different sign sets,” Knight added. “You have the calculator and it goes into their watch, and boom, let’s roll from there. It’s made pitching coaches’ jobs a lot easier.”

Knight said the Pirates last season had their catcher signal pitches with no runners on base and used a card to call pitches in other situations.

“There are some teams such as Virginia and Vanderbilt and guys that we talked to about it, and they said that if you don’t do it you’re crazy,” Knight said.

“It’s not as different as you might think because we used to have the sign cards on your wrist,” senior pitcher Carter Spivey said. “It’s kind of the same. But I actually like it, I think it helps with the pace of play.”