Best Softball Bat 2017 – The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide
A bat that feels natural in your hands is the best! Clearly, with so many options available, it would not be practical to try holding all the bats to find the one that suits you the best.
This article will help you understand the subtle differences between the bats used for this sport. It will also help you understand the nuances between fast pitched and slow pitched softball sport. Towards the end of the article, we will review a few popular products. You could choose the one that suits your swing and your height. It is always better to hold it, swing it and then buy it!
**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
Below is a feature of products which have had good run with the users
We will now take a look at the deep features and the advantages that each of these bats offer
The bat is built from a two-piece, fully composite frame; the TR3 F.L.O. Fibers used in the handle provides the ideal amount of flex which will help you to get the right swing. It ensures that the energy is focused on the right spot. The bat provides a natural feel when held. Like its older versions, Juggy continues to have loyalists who swear by the swing and perfect length and weight of the bat.
The bat holds Stacked Composite Technology within its 12 inch barrel length. This Triple Wall Construction has a little more weight distributed in the barrel; this is an engineering genius unique to DeMariniJuggy – many tests are conducted to determine the ideal weight and length of the bat. Weight distribution has been given importance as it is the aspect which will ensure the right pop. The RCK knob has been designed to fit the bottom hand perfectly to give the right grip and control over the bat. This version is an end loaded bat which has the Big D End Cap. It has been designed to achieve optimal performance with newer .52 COR, 300 Compression ASA softballs. Juggy continues to command a dominant market share amongst competitive players.
The 2016 JuggyDXNT3 is backed by 12 Month Manufacturer's Warranty and is Approved for Play in ASA only.
- Users suggest that it is a good bat for ASA
- Hot out of the wrapper bat, gives the right swing
- Among the top brands in the industry
- Some users feel that it may not be the ideal weight
- Not many users see major feature additions since the previous version
- Pricing may be on the higher side
BRAND NEW: NT3-16 (Juggy OG) (Source: Youtube.com)
The frame design of this bat is a two frame composite type.The handle of this bat is made of DeMarini’s strongest metal SC4 Alloy; it provides an ultra-stiff grip.
Optimal balance is achieved by the barrel using Divergence technology; this feature is exclusive to the DeMarini Flipper.
This design is created using two layers of composite materials which enable sandwiching an air gap which in turn creates high responsiveness for High COR Low Compression balls.
This particular barrel design is unique; it has been drawing great reviews and attention from the competitive players’ community since its launch.
This bat is an end loaded bat; it features DeMarini's concave Dish End Cap.It provides good trampoline effect thereby ensuring that the momentum of the ball is powerful when it hits the strike zone.
This model continues to have its set of loyalists amongst the competitive players’ community, despite newer launches under the DeMarini brand.
All the DeMarini bats have the unique feature of Rotation Index near the end cap which keeps reminding the player to rotate the bat for an “even break-in”.
The bat comes with a 12 Month manufacturer warranty and is approved for play in ASA only.
- Durable design and make
- Stiff grip to provide high responsiveness
- Multi-Wall Barrel Designed for High COR Low Compression Balls
- Two layers of composite materials sometimes provides a trampoline effect, thereby ball launches off the bat in an unintended direction
- Given the stiff grip design, users suggest using gloves since it has a slightly rough feel
2015 DeMarini Flipper Aftermath OG Bat Review (Source: youtube.com)
This bat uses IMX Advanced Composite Barrel and Handle which is the tried and tested Easton composite which channelizes the power on the sweet spot which lets out a pop every time one swings the bat.
It is built with a strong one-piece design which gives it a better control and a natural swing.
The handle is 29/32 inch in length with Ultra-Thin Gauze Grip which allows a nice feel when you hold the bat; it does not lend a rough feel. Since it is an all association model, it enjoys a wider user acceptance; Salvo has been on the market for long enough to have a large, loyal fan following.
It is an All-Associations model and is approved for USSSA, ASA, NSA, ISA and ISF play. It is also backed by a 12 Month Manufacturer's Warranty.
- All association model
- One – piece, single system composite design to provide better control over the barrelDurable design
- Ultra-thin gauze grip is not favored by many users
- Lacks the technological advancement that some of the other bats offer
Easton Salvo Comp Balanced ASAUSSSA Slow Pitch Softball Bat SP15SVAU (Source: youtube.com)
Difference between baseball and softball bats
The same bat is used for baseball and a softball game at the Youth level - Little League baseball and softball level.
Typically, the bat at this level would have a length of around 30”, this regardless of the sport (baseball and softball). At the adult level, there are differences between baseball and softball. In fact, the bats used for slow-pitch softball and fast-pitch softball are also different. The differences can be seen in bat length and weight, grip, barrel diameters and stiffness (trampoline effect).
Softball bats cannot be used to play baseball because they will be unable to take the force of baseball. You may end up damaging your bat. Sometimes, some players may use baseball bat to play softball by adjusting to the heavier weight and shorter length.
Difference between fast – pitch softball bats and slow-pitch softball bats
Before we analyze the bats required for each of these games, it is important to understand the difference between the pitches. The basic rules of the game are same in both forms of softball pitches. However, there is a difference between the pitch speeds; the bats are designed to suit the requirement.
They are of different weight and length; their usage is also different. A slow – pitch bat is designed to attack a ball which comes at 25 mph (meters per hour). The fast – pitch bat has to hit balls which fly at 80 mph or more.
Slow-pitch bats have to slug the ball and are designed to cater to this need. The fast-pitch bats are designed for quick response and speed. Fast pitch bats which are to be highly responsive are lighter compared to slow pitch bats.
Fast pitch bats weigh between 23 oz to 28 oz, whereas slow pitch bats weigh around 26 oz to 30 oz. Length wise there is a good amount of overlap, slow pitch softball bats’ length ranges between 33” to 34”. Fast pitch bats are slightly shorter; they could range between 32” – 34”.
The bat you choose should depend on your build and comfort. Both of these bats will have a narrow barrel diameter of 2.25”.
Even though it is possible to use a fast – pitch bat for slow – pitch softball, it may not be ideal. Fast pitch bats which are lighter may get damaged in a slow pitch softball game.
Although slow pitch bats are used for fast pitch games, due to their heavy nature they are not as responsive. This could affect the performance in the game.
There are other subtle differences in the game such as the protective gear used by catchers. Although both games have the same defensive line – up, an extra player is allowed in the slow pitch game.
It is believed that fast pitch softball game is for serious players, it is considered fierce and competitive. A slow pitch softball game is for leisurely enjoyment.
Choosing the right softball bat
Three things that we suggest you consider while choosing a softball bat are – length, weight, and drop.
- The length of the bat has to be measured from the knob to the barrel. The knob should be kept at the center of your chest; the barrel should flow towards your fingertips. The length is considered appropriate if you can touch the end of the barrel with your fingertips.
- The weight of the bat is considered ideal based on your body style and your own weight / build. Heavier bats will cause your swing to drop and hence, you will have to use an upward angle every time to ensure that you get the right pop. This could, in turn, strain your wrist and cause injury. Experts suggest that you hold the bat with an extended arm for 30 seconds, if you can comfortably hold it; the bat is of an ideal weight.
- Bat drop or Drop of the bat is the difference between length and weight of the bat. If the drop is lower, it indicates that it is a heavier bat. A lighter bat will have a heavier drop. Some leagues also limit the amount of drop a softball bat can have.
Choosing the right design
Aluminum softball bats are considered ideal at the youth recreational level. However, these have lost favor amongst today’s youth who are fixated on brands and models.
Composite bats are becoming more popular, they are durable and promise better performance. Bat designs these days are technology driven; there are differentiated based on the pop (trampoline effect), vibration, swing weight, the grip they offer.
There are balanced and end loaded bats available in the market. Balanced bats are considered ideal for base hitters. The power hitters choose end loaded bats. The difference between the two is the weight distribution from the knob to the barrel.
Balanced bats have an even weight distribution; end loaded bats are heavier in the barrel of the bat. Balanced bats offer better bat control since the initial bat speed is what decides the point of contact.
Bat control refers to the ability to attack the fair balls with a delayed swing or getting around on faster pitching. A bat that gets you to the point of contact quickly is considered to have a good “bat control”. It is seen that slappers and hitters use balanced bats.
In the case of End loaded bats, the speed is enhanced after the point of contact is reached. This helps in building momentum through the ball, which will enable the ball to reach the further distance. However, if you are unable to handle the weight properly, end loaded bats could slow your swing which will ruin your performance.
How important is the bat drop?
Ideal bat drop depends on your style and your physique. A bat with the right bat drop will allow you to maintain right speed and control. Bat drop is arrived at by reducing the weight from the length of the bat. The drop of the bat is independent of whether it is a balanced or end loaded bat. However, you need to consider both the features and then decide on the right bat.
A bat with a -11, -12 or -13 drop (e.g. Length: 33”; Weight: 20 oz) may be best for someone who wants a longer bat but not a heavy one. However, for someone who wants a longer and heavier bat (someone with a strong build), -8, -9 or -10 drop bat (e.g. length - 34”; Weight - 26 oz) may work well.
Brands and Models
There are many brands and models in the market, the popular ones being Easton, DeMarini, Louisville Slugger - (these are dubbed as the big 3 in this business). The other prominent ones are Anderson, Mizuno, etc.
The bat you buy should be legal in your league / association. As part of their product features, these bats mention the approvals (USSSA, ASA, ISA, NSA, ISF, etc.).
Does good softball bat make you a better hitter?
The right bat is extremely important in the softball game. Varied parameters could determine your performance, irrespective of whether it is soft-pitch or fast-pitch game, the key aspects that determine your game are the swing, bat control, speed and drop which we covered in detail previously.
Most local retailers these days offer batting cages where you are allowed to try out a few bats. It is important that you invest time before your pour in your money.
Every feature of the bat becomes pertinent for you to become a perfect hitter. While gripping, the hitter has to put pressure with fingers and not with the palm. Typically, for a right – handed batsman, the bottom hand (in this case left hand) would control the bat and the hand at the top would support the bat loosely. Players should hold the bat closer to the knob / handle for getting a powerful hit.
The bat is held away from the chest and between the shoulders. Elbows are down, wrists and shoulders are kept loose and flexible.
The positioning of the player is important to get the swing over the strike zone; player has to position themselves in the center of the batter box. The bat is held slightly with an upward angle to provide swift reaction and right pop.
The shoulders and hands are kept well aligned, while the feet, hips and weight distribution of the body determine the swing. This will provide the right bat control.
To get desired distance, the player has to use the middle part of the bat. It will create a line drive. By hitting the ball with the strike zone, good momentum can be maintained in the ball.
A powerful hit is determined by technology, timing, and technique. But it all starts with the right bat!
The best products in the industry have been compared in this article; however, there are many more available. The pricing aspect has not been included because different retailers offer varied discounts and price may not be the most important aspect while making the choice.
Many professional players stick to the big 3s in the industry, primarily because they may be the main sponsors for the game. They are gaining popularity amongst the serious players, due to the technology that they offer.
Always remember, the bat has to feel natural when you grip it. Find your calling with the right bat. It’s about time you got a grip and swung it right!!
Image credits: Amazon.com