Conservation of momentum: A thought experiment.
A baseball is placed on top of a baseball holder, the kind used to train young batters. A batter hits the stationary ball perfectly horizontal, sending it flying through the air in a relatively straight line, during which time it will eventually fall to the ground due to Earth’s gravitational pull. Ignoring everything but momentum, the total distance traveled by the time it hits ground is, let’s say 200 feet.
Now, a second baseball is instead dropped down in front of the batter from a certain height, straight down, at which time the player again hits the ball squarely on its side, not at an up or down angle, but perfectly horizontal, sending it flying in a relatively straight line through the air.
Will this second ball travel the same distance as the first one, and if so, what happened to the downward momentum the ball obtained before it was hit by the batter? Alternatively, does the initial downward momentum in fact affect the distance traveled?
My friends say that the initial downward momentum is most likely converted into heat by friction with the bat, rendering it incapable of affecting the trajectory of the struck ball. I say the initial downward momentum of the dropped ball must be conserved and that it does in fact make the ball fall faster to the ground, thereby shortening the distance traveled. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.