Two-piece composite and alloy construction reduces sting. Good pop. Very well-balanced. Lightweight and flexible. Certified for play in ASA, ISA, ISF, NSA, and USSSA leagues.
Some reports of weakness between handle and barrel, but failures are rare.
Very affordable entry-level price point, especially as a dedicated practice bat. Lightweight and great for aggressive swingers. Decent weight distribution for an aluminum alloy bat with end cap.
Barrel dents very easily, even with large softballs. May not be ideal choice for fastpitch play.
Composite construction improves pop and distance. Minimal break-in period required. Hot out of the box. Very large sweet spot. Light swing weight but highly durable. Approved by ASA, USSSA, and NSA.
Bat may be end-loaded, not as balanced as promoted. Some reports of chipping and cracking.
Two-piece composite fiber construction. Power balance design improves head speed and flex. Significant amount of pop with minimal vibration. No internal governors. Approved for ASA, USSSA, and ISA play.
Not legal in all softball leagues. Smaller barrel diameter means smaller sweet spot.
Increased length without increased weight. Alloy resists dents and dings well. Larger barrel with an improved sweet spot. Minimal break-in time required. Well-known manufacturer of sporting gear.
Single-piece alloy construction. Noticeable stinging and vibration. Very lightweight. Does not generate as much power as other bats.
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Whether you’re buying a fast-pitch softball bat for your daughter or a slow-pitch softball bat for your own league play, this can be an expensive piece of equipment. Softball bats may all look similar, but they differ quite a bit from model to model. Not only do you have to worry about finding one that fits your swing, but it also has to conform to your league’s rules. Pick an ill-fitting bat and your performance will suffer. Pick a bat that’s illegal in your league and you’ll have thrown your money away because the umpire will take it out of play.
If it’s confusing, we at BestReviews can help you understand the jargon and the complexities of purchasing the best softball bat.
Please continue reading our shopping guide in which we break down the most important categories in comparing different softball bats. If you’re ready to buy a bat, check out our top picks in the chart above.
You can select from a few different types of materials in your softball fast-pitch or slow-pitch bat.
Composite: A composite bat consists of layered materials, primarily carbon fiber. Some players prefer composite bats because they reduce vibration in the hands on mis-hits.
The layered construction enables the manufacturer to tweak the bat’s features. For example, a composite bat may have more weight near the end of the barrel to generate more power. With most of the weight in the barrel, the bat generates a whip-like action during a swing, which creates extra power. Composite bats can also have a balanced weight throughout the bat for more control and faster swing speed.
Composite bats usually require a break-in period before they perform at the highest level, usually 100 or more ball strikes. And these bats usually cost more than alloy bats.
Alloy: An alloy bat consists of two or more different metals, one of which is usually aluminum. An alloy bat feels stiff when swung, which some people prefer. However, this stiffness can cause a stinging of the hands on mis-hits, especially in cold weather.
Alloy bats aren’t as customizable as composite bats because manufacturers can’t distribute the weight in metal bats as easily.
Alloy bats don’t require a break-in period. These bats last longer and cost less on average than composite bats.
A one-piece bat is made of one continuous piece of material. One-piece softball bats are stiffer and don’t flex during the swing or during contact, generating more power.
A two-piece bat has a different material in the barrel than in the handle, and the two parts are fused together. Two-piece softball bats have less vibration in the hands on a mis-hit. The flex during the swing and during contact allows for greater bat control.
The length of the bat is measured in inches from the base of the knob to the end of the barrel. A longer bat enables you to cover more of the strike zone, but it almost certainly will be heavier than a shorter bat. This extra length and weight can slow your bat speed.
The weight of the bat is measured in ounces. A heavier bat delivers more power, but it may slow your bat speed.
Slow-pitch softball bats
There are numerous restrictions on the size of slow-pitch bats, so buying one is a bit easier than buying a fast-pitch bat.
All slow-pitch softball bats measure 34 inches long. Most weigh between 26 and 30 ounces (some leagues outlaw heavier bats). Players looking for a bit more control in their swing will opt for a 26-ounce bat (-8 drop weight). Players looking for maximum power will pick a 30-ounce bat (-4 drop weight).
Fast-pitch softball bats
These bats are available in more lengths than slow-pitch bats because there are fewer rules limiting the length and weight of fast-pitch bats.
Most fast-pitch bats range between 28 and 34 inches long (there are shorter bats for young players). Taller and heavier players can handle longer bats well. Players shorter than 4.5 feet usually need bats between 28 and 30 inches long (or shorter for very young players). Bats closer to 30 inches are better for those in this height range who weigh more than 100 pounds. Players who are 4.5 to 5.5 feet tall select bats between 30 and 32 inches long. For example, a 5-foot, 125-pound player will use a 31-inch bat. Players over 5.5 feet tall need bats between 32 and 34 inches long.
Once you’ve found the right bat length, you can focus on weight and drop weight. A softball bat’s drop weight is the negative number printed prominently on the bat. This number is the length of the bat in inches minus the weight of the bat in ounces.
Understanding the drop weight can help you make sure you’re picking the right bat for your needs. Drop weight is not an important consideration for slow-pitch players, but it is important for fast-pitch players, especially youth. Some youth and adult fast-pitch leagues require bats to fit within a certain drop weight range. Don’t buy a bat until you know your league’s requirements.
A long, heavy softball bat can have a drop weight of -13 or -14. A common drop weight range for fast-pitch youth players is between -8 and -13. Older, stronger youth players will aim for a drop weight closer to -8. Younger players who are still gaining strength probably will want a drop weight closer to -13.
A shorter, lighter softball bat can have a drop weight of -3 or -4. An adult player may want a drop weight in the -4 to -10 range, depending on the player’s height and strength.
For less vibration and stinging in the hands on a mis-hit, pick a two-piece bat or a bat with a barrel made of composite.
You’ll probably have to buy several bats if your child plays often. You can expect a child to outgrow a youth fast-pitch softball bat within 12 to 24 months.
Stick to a budget when looking at softball bats. Keep in mind that your budget also may have to accommodate fielding gloves, batting gloves, shoes, uniforms, and league fees.
All softball bats wear out eventually, but you can take steps to extend the life of your bat. Limit the number of swings during batting practice. Don’t strike anything other than a softball with the bat. Rotate the bat one-quarter turn after each hit. Try to avoid using the bat in cold temperatures. Finally, follow the specific care instructions provided by the bat’s manufacturer.
Prices range from $30 to $400 for both slow-pitch and fast-pitch softball bats.
Consider how often you or your child will be playing softball. If the bat will be used in several games per week, you’ll be able to justify the cost of a more expensive bat. If you play a lot, your hitting skills are probably good enough that a higher-quality bat can help your game.
Q. What do all of the stamped logos on the softball bat mean?
A. Any high-quality, regulation softball bat you purchase should have organizational logos stamped on it. These logos indicate that the bat meets the specifications and rules for legal bats for a particular organization. National governing bodies for softball, such as USA Softball or the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA), will have their logos stamped on the bat. Most softball leagues require the use of a softball bat that has a certain logo stamped on it.
Q. What does it mean when a bat needs a break-in period?
A. Softball bats made from composite material don’t reach their peak velocity exit speed until they’ve been used multiple times. Each type of composite bat is a little different, but as a general rule, a break-in period is about 100 ball strikes. Some bats require more and some less. The softball bat manufacturer can give you specific break-in instructions for your model. Alloy metal softball bats do not require a break-in period.
Q. How do I know what diameter of softball bat I should select?
A. According to most league rules, for a fast-pitch or slow-pitch softball bat to be legal, the barrel must be no more than 2.25 inches in diameter. Some baseball bats have a larger diameter, but they are illegal in nearly all softball leagues.
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