You’ve decided that 2017 is the year you up your softball game. Being able to run the bases and field a ball is important, but so is your equipment. Whether you’re a beginning player or an experienced one, you need a good bat. But before you buy a new one, let us help pick the best softball bat for you and knock it out of the park this year!
Best softball bats 2017
Here are our picks for the best softball bats for this year.
Fastpitch bat winner:
This balanced bat beat out its competitors to be our best softball bat for fastpitch in 2017. Highly durable, it can stand up to years of heavy use, making it an ideal investment. Using Louisville’s new system, Performance Barrel Flex (PBF), you get maximum power and a bigger sweet spot. It’s also made with patented TRU3 Dynamic Socket Connection, which improves the connection between barrel and handle. TRU3 limits vibration, reducing the sting to your hands, and maximizes the trampoline effect. With this bat, you’re sure to hit a lot of balls, so you’ll want your hands to be comfortable. If that’s out of your budget comfort zone, you can still get a great bat from the Louisville Slugger® Xeno Plus ’17 series.
Slowpitch bat winner:
This powerhouse bat features the highest grade aerospace carbon and aramid fibers. Another super-durable bat, it’s the signature bat of USSSA star, Jeremy Isenhower. This bat does have a fixed length of 34″, but comes in several different weights. The handle is a bit stiffer, too, but that can work for big power hitters. It has a 1oz endload, to maximize your swing and send the ball out of the park. If the look of your bat is important to your overall confidence behind the plate, this sleek black and orange Psycho will give you the boost you need.
Why you need to check out softball bat reviews
There are a million sources of information these days on how to pick the best of something. Some are from the companies making the products and some are people that are paid to write reviews. We suggest spending some time researching your choices first. It only costs you a little time and could save you money in the long run. On this site, we’re real players, and parents of players, who have used these bats. We want you to play your best game this year, and it starts with the best softball bat for you. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact us.
Best softball bats 101
Before you start your research, know what you’re looking for. Are you playing fastpitch? Slowpitch? Both? You’re looking for the right tool for the job, so know what the job is first.
The parts of your bat and what they do
If you’re a new player, you may be unfamiliar with all the terminology. Make sure you understand the parts of your bat, and what it’s supposed to do.
This is the part of the bat that comes in contact with the ball. Depending on the material, you’ll get various degrees of the trampoline effect. That means how much energy is absorbed into the bat, instead of being used to send the ball farther.
It’s the obvious part, but what’s not so obvious is something called softball shock. That’s the vibration that travels into your hands after a hit, particularly a bad one. Some bat handle styles may reduce this tingling sensation that can even get worse with time. If you’re an advanced player or like to try the newest gear, check out the axe bat: is it the future of bat handle shapes?
Exactly what it sounds like, the sweet spot is where you get the most bang for your ball. Some bats have larger ones than others, mostly depending on the bat’s material.
Often written as a negative number (e.g., -8), it’s the difference in the length and weight of your bat. For instance, a -10 means a 34″ bat weighs 24 ounces. Different leagues have different rules for drops, so check those first so you know what to look for. Determining your ideal bat length is a key element of choosing the right bat.
It won’t do you any good (and will waste your money) if you choose a bat that isn’t allowed in your league. There are restrictions depending on what style you play, and in which league. If you play in more than one, make sure to check them all before you buy (you may even need two bats).
What to look for in the best softball bat for you
You’ve watched someone on your team, or an opponent, and think their bat would be great for you. But are you sure about that? That same bat may not be your best softball bat, and here’s why.
The way you’re built affects your swing. Are you muscular? Thin? What’s your height? And your gender will play a role in your bat preference, too. You need a bat that fits your body correctly, otherwise, it’s a swing and a miss.
Swing, batter, batter!
You need to control your bat, it shouldn’t control you. If you’re a bigger player, a heavier bat will give you more power. If you’re on the lighter side, a lighter bat will give you more swing speed. And if you’re playing fast pitch, you may want a lighter bat so you can react more quickly. The right bat weight for your playing style and physique is key.
Different materials types in different bats
There are several types of bats, based on what they’re made from. We’ll give you the basics on each, to help you find your best softball bat.
There are benefits to an all alloy bat (also known as metal and aluminum bats):
- It won’t break as easily or quickly
- Alloy bats are lightweight for a faster swing
- They’re available in a variety of thicknesses, and can be combined with other materials
The downsides of alloy can include:
- These bats are best when they’re new, and may lose pop over time
- Alloy bats are heavier than composite but lighter than wood
Composite bats are typically made from a mix of plastic resin, graphite, and fiberglass. They have a very distinctive sound but can take some time to break in (150-300 hits). Once you’ve got it broken in, a composite bat will likely have a larger sweet spot. This kind of bat can also reduce softball shock.
Though the cons of a full composite bat may outweigh the pros:
- It will crack upon breaking, not just dent like an alloy barrel
- A composite bat can be more expensive than any other type
The best of both worlds?
There are hybrid bats, made out of a combination of alloy and composite materials. The combination is typically a composite handle with an aluminum barrel. That way, you get a right-out-of-the-wrapper barrel that doesn’t need to be broken in, with the smooth feel of a composite handle. The weak link in a hybrid bat can be where the handle joins the barrel, so make sure you understand the specs of the hybrids you’re considering.
Last but not least, wood bats
As with any choice, wood bats have both pros and cons. They’re considered the most “traditional” style and are used in the big leagues today. They break more often than any other bat but can be cheaper to replace overall. They’re the heaviest of all styles, so may only be suited for stronger players. You can choose from several types of wood, including birch, maple, and ash. Check your league requirements first if you’re thinking of buying a wood bat.
How to take care of your new bat
Congratulations, you’ve picked the best softball bat!
Now that you’ve made your investment, make sure you protect it with these tips:
Swing the bat, not the temperature
Keep your bat as close to room temp as possible, especially during storage. Big temperature swings can make your bat brittle.
Break it in right
Composite bats require a break-in period (several hundred swings, normally). Make sure to rotate your bat after each hit to break it in evenly. That’s a good practice for all other bat types, but not wood. Wood bats should be hit on the grain face, which means usually means hitting it in the same spot.
It’s a bat, not a hammer
Make sure you’re only hitting softballs with your bat. Don’t clean your shoes with it, either.
Keep it clean
Wipe your new bat down with a soft cloth, especially if you’ve been playing in the rain. This is more important if you’ve picked a wood bat.
Batting cages aren’t your new bat’s friend
The heavy balls in a batting cage can damage your bat. If you need practice, try getting a similar but cheaper bat for the cages.
The bottom line
You’re playing a fun sport, you should be having fun. With softball, it’s important to pick a bat that works for you and your budget, so you can keep enjoying the game.
If you’re in the market for a glove, too, check out our softball glove reviews.