All You Need To Know About Buying Softball Bats
Choosing the best softball bats is of the essence. The variations among them can make their purchase really difficult. This guide will help you understand the differences between bat types and allow you to decide on which bat to choose that will satisfy your requirements and still be on budget. Everything is important when it comes to softball bats. The key to selecting the best softball bats is to find one which fits your requirements. It must not be too heavy or too lightweight and must be perfect for your height and weight.
With so many brands, materials and key features, which are incredibly important for the right bat selection, the choice is far from easy. This is where we come in. With the following guide, we are trying to help you choose the bat that will let you keep control in order to have exceptional performance in the field. A good bat is not very cheap, but we did some digging and thorough research and we are presenting you the most attractive solutions on the market in regard to value for money.
Softball bats to consider before buying yours
Types of Softball Bats: Slowpitch vs. Fastpitch
There are two types of softball games and so two types of softball bats. The slow pitch and the fast pitch ones.
Slow pitch bats: These ones are one or two-piece, single or multiple wall bats of alloy or composite materials. Bear in mind that composite materials are not accepted by all leagues and so you must check with yours before you buy your new bat. They can be balanced or end-loaded.
Fast pitch bats: They are also called girls softball bats and are made of either aluminum or composite materials or of both. In the case of the latter, they are called half and half. They can be one or two-piece bats. For more information, check out the “What type of game” section below.
Top 5 Best Softball Bats on the Market 2017
What makes this softball bat great is its great price in relation to the -11 feature, which allows excellent performance. The paradox composite handle is strong and stiff and allows better response out of the barrel. The sweet spot extends along the entire length of the barrel and allows maximum trampoline, which is also enhanced by the clutch end cap that keeps the barrel walls rigid.
This bat is actually a good bargain if you consider its unique features. The new 2016 -11 version, the DeMarini CF8 is a bit more expensive, but this is expected when the model is fresh. Besides, it has a paradox plus+ composite barrel and a D-Fusion handle for better trampoline. Price check for DeMarini CF7-11 is here.
Things We Liked
- It helps balance weight due to its length
- Great pop which gives confidence to hitters
- The large sweet spot is very helpful especially for new players and youngsters
Things We Didn't Like
- Regardless of where the ball strikes, the barrel vibrates
- It loses its pop quickly
This Louisville Slugger -10 model is powerful and offers maximum pop. It features performance Plus composite with no friction thanks to the double wall design of the barrel. The company has patented the iST technology / 2-piece construction and also the S1iD barrel technology. Such features ensure balance, long sweet spot barrel, light swing weight and lots of power. The barrel is 2 ¼” and has a 7/8” handle.
It is offered at a very good price. At a similar cost, you can also get the latest -11 Xeno version, which shares the same characteristics as its predecessor with the only difference that it’s a tad lighter and durable. Price check for Louisville Slugger Xeno Plus Fastpitch (-11) is here.
Things We Liked
- It hits great and the ball goes further
- The sweet spot does cover the barrel’s length and there is an even hotter sweet spot above the anti-vibration ring
- The velocity and distance covered by the ball are extraordinary
- Amazing pop
Things We Didn't Like
- There is a weak spot where the barrel meets the handle
- The price doesn’t justify the durability
This Fastpitch softball bat features a fiber composite 2-piece handle for free hand sting and a DX1 Alloy barrel for minimum vibrations. The product meets the 1.20 BPF bat standards and is approved by the following associations: ASA, USSSA, NSA, ISF and ISA. It was designed by hitter, Crysti Bustos, and ensures maximum performance. It is a very affordable choice and a good deal for youth players. Price check for DeMarini 2014 Vendetta WTDXVCF Fastpitch is here.
Things We Liked
- It offers good pop at a low price
- It has incredible balance
- It helps youngsters with less power to hit the ball further
Things We Didn't Like
- It’s not very strong
- Not the best choice for those who expect too much pop
It is an extremely strong bat thanks to the way it is manufactured. It features 750 x High Pressure Infusion (HPI) and 100 COMP. It’s a one piece aerospace grade carbon fiber bat with a 14 ½ inch barrel length. It’s ideal for power hitters.Price check for Miken Izzy Psycho Supermax USSSA Slowpitch is here.
Things We Liked
- It has a great pop and is well balanced
- The ball flies without too much power
- It’s lightweight
Things We Didn't Like
- It’s not exactly hot out of the wrapper since it takes at least 100 hits to start making the ball fly
- It is not very powerful
With a stacked barrel construction and an end loaded triple wall barrel, the Juggy NT3 DeMarini model is a lightweight, nice solution. Although this is not the most inexpensive option, it is affordable and a good choice for those who need a strong bat. The barrel has a springboard surface and a stiff Big D end cap to keep energy impact on the barrel’s sweet spot.
The new Juggy 2015 ASA bat shares similar features with its predecessor and has a two-piece feel 12” barrel. It is still a stacked composite design with a Big D end cap and features a TR3 F.L.O. handle.Price check for DeMarini 2014 NT3 Juggy WTDXNT3 Slow Pitch Softball Bat is here.
Things We Liked
- Hot out of the wrapper
- Easy to find the sweet spot
- Very powerful to cover long distance
- Incredible pop
Things We Didn't Like
- It’s rather expensive
- It doesn’t provide the pop expected for its value
Features to consider when Choosing Softball Bats
There are several differentiations among softball bats whether we are talking about soft pitch or fast pitch ones. If you are a new player, the first thing you should sort out is whether you are interested in bats made for soft or fast pitch games. The sport is different and so are the bats. Still there are variations in terms of the material and the barrel. Some bats consist of two pieces and some are one-piece bats. The pros and cons change depending on your needs. So, let’s take a look of the most distinctive features.
One-piece bats: If you are looking for minimum flex, this is the bat for you. Since they are one piece, they are extremely strong.
Two-piece bats: The handle is separate from the barrel and thanks to their design, these bats give you maximum trampoline effect.
Number of barrel walls: Bats with many barrel walls are actually made of many layers (of the material) and create a spring effect. These are excellent choices for maximum trampoline.
End Caps: This is the cap at the end of the barrel.
Material/Durability: The material used for the production of bats plays a great role to their durability. These are the most common materials:
- Composite bats:These ones are made of carbon fiber, fiberglass and graphite. They are hybrid bats. Most two-piece bats are made of composite materials and have an alloy barrel and composite handle. They are often prohibited by leagues, so check with yours. They are great for both fast and slow pitch bats.
- Bamboo bats: This is the strongest material among all other wood-made bats. Since it is extra strong, it lasts longer. The material is often used for the construction of slow pitch softball bats.
- Maple bats: This material is hard and really stiff and so maple bats are often used by power hitters.
- Ash bats: This is a soft material and so the perfect choice for those seeking high trampoline effect. It flexes when the bat is swung and offers to the player better control over the bat. They are often used for slow pitch games.
- Alloy bats: These bats are made of aluminum. One-piece bats are often made of aluminum or aluminum mixed with other metals so that they will be extremely strong. Alloy bats are excellent for slow and fast pitch games.
Grip: This is the bat handle wrap. Lizard skins are very popular. You can buy these wraps separately and install them yourself.
Taper (Handles): Bats have either flexible or stiff handlers. With one-piece bats, the handle and barrel are one and this makes the handle stiffer. Two-piece bats have a separate handle and that makes them more flexible.
Barrel: Barrels vary in terms of weight, material and length. Depending on their stiffness, they will be more or less flexible to give trampoline effect. The barrel actually acts as a spring. It stores energy to return it to the ball to increase speed and land further. So, before you choose your bat, you must decide whether you need a barrel with elastic properties (often found in two-piece bats) or not.
Weight Distribution: We have three distinctions here:
- Balanced bats: Their weight is evenly distributed (as their name implies) all the way from the knob to the end cap. These are the favorite bats for contact hitters and the most popular ones.
- End-loaded bats: These bats have more weight at the end cap.
- Max-loaded bats: They are similar to the end-loaded bats, but their weight is more towards the end. They are designed for players with strength who can easily manage swing control and so they are not the best choice for children.
Size: The size of your bat depends on your height and weight. For example, for a player with 57-60 inches height and weighing 101-110 pounds, a 31” bat is required.
- Length ranges: For slow pitch bats: 33” to 34”. For fast pitch bats: 32” to 34”. For youth leagues: 29” to 32”.
- Weight ranges: For slow pitch bats: 26 to 30 oz. For fast pitch bats: 23 to 28 oz. For youth leagues: 14 to 27 oz.
- Drop weight ranges: -8 to -13. This is the weight minus the length. For example, a 32” inch bat weighing 22 ounces will have a -10 drop weight.
Feeling: This is the way the bat feels in your hands. It must not be too heavy and must also feel good when you touch it in your hands. It must not be slippery. It should feel as if it was the extension of your arms.
Importance of Reviews – Something to Keep in Mind
Wondering which product will be the best softball bats for you? We are with you! There is no doubt that the variations among them, league restrictions and money issues will make you think twice. After all, a couple of hundred dollars as an average is a considerable amount of money for most of us. In order to make your life easier, we have gathered some customers’ reviews. They can be helpful. Here below you can also find a few things to keep in mind:
- What type of game:
Are you interested in fast or slow pitch softball games? They are different. The pitcher throws the ball differently and the batter responds accordingly. As their name implies, in soft pitch softball games the ball is about 12 inches big and must arch on its way to the hitter. The pitch in fast pitch softball games is fast.
- Why the material is important:
The material is important because it will make the bat lightweight or heavy and neither is good. The bat must allow some flexibility and still be strong. If it’s too heavy, you won’t be able to keep control over it. If it’s too light, you won’t hit the ball with ease.
If you are looking for a new bat, you are either a new player or want to replace the older one. Either case, you need to get a bat, which will help you have great performance in the field. With new bats coming out, you certainly need a new one that will be much better than the last one. Two-piece bats might break, but they are excellent for trampoline effect. If you are a new player, you should focus on the length of the hot spot of the barrel. The longer the sweet spot the better for high performance! Choosing a bat for high performance is extremely important if your league is governed by associations (ASA, USSSA etc.).
There is no doubt that softball bats are not inexpensive. Some cost a few hundred dollars and the truth is that the average family can hardly afford such prices. The good news is that there are some good deals out there. It depends on your needs, too. If you want a bat for your daughter but she is still learning, there is no need to spend a fortune. You can find excellent bargains and still have the best softball bats for her.
It’s always preferable to trust a well-known brand, which can give you warranty. Most softball bat manufacturers do continuous research and focus on details related to the elasticity and high performance of their products. Since they have many things to lose, they never stop making improvements. Brands, like Miken, Louisville Slugger and DeMarini, have been tested for their products for years, but you should still read more about their products before buying anything. Don’t forget that their models vary, too. The good thing is that they have experience and could help you choose, too.
- League Requirement/Organization Approval/Bat Regulation/Approved for ASA or USSSA:
There are always league requirements and most of them meet the standards set by ASA and USSSA. For example, some associations do not accept bats made of composite. So, it’s best to check with your league about their requirements before you invest in a new bat. Not all leagues are governed by these associations, but those which do they would want a bat with a certification stamp.
The characteristics of your new softball bat must meet your current needs, but also the requirements of your league. So, don’t go buying anything before you check your height, weight and the rules of your team. When it comes to bats, things are tougher. If you want to buy the best softball bats for high performance, you need to make a choice that will be the extension of your hands. Don’t choose bats, which will exhaust you due to their heavy weight or won’t let you control it right due to their lightweight. From your size to whether you are interested in slow-pitch or fast-pitch softball bats, every little detail is important.
Use the above guide to make an excellent choice. Remember: your goal is to find a bat that will help you hit the ball at the right distance and that it will offer great pop and the expected trampoline effect. Make sure you get bats with long sweet spots and soft-feel handles. All softball bats have a 2 ¼ inch barrel. Most common soft pitch bats weigh from 26 to 30 ounces and are 34” long. Most fast pitch bats range from 26 to 34” long and their drop weight ratio ranges from -8 to -13. Choose the right material and prefer hot out of the wrapper bats so that it won’t take you forever to achieve high performance. Bats without the right features will only waste your money. We just hope that our little research has helped. Best wishes for great performance!