Everyone knows that choosing the right bat makes all the difference at the plate. Bat balance, barrel size, handle length, and grip all combine to make or break your at-bat.
With bat technology rapidly developing, it’s becoming more and more difficult to sort through what bats are worth buying and those that aren’t even suited for batting practice.
It seems a little strange to say, but the ability to pick out a quality bat has helped more than one softball player (and coach) stand out from the rest.
Different bats have certain characteristics that help them stand out and boost or hinder aspects of a player’s game.
This effective compounds when a coach is picking bats for the whole team. High school baseball teams and younger often suffer from inept gear due to an uneducated coaching staff.
One softball bat that has consistently stood out from the competition is the Louisville Slugger Xeno. The bat is extremely popular among collegiate and professional athletes and is regarded by many as the best bat on the market.
The 2017 edition of the Louisville Slugger Xeno looks to keep this tradition of excellence alive.
Maybe it’s the bat for you, and maybe it isn’t (we have to say that, this bat is awesome). Though one thing is for certain, this bat is sure to make waves in softball circles.
How To Choose Your Bat
Choosing your softball bat isn’t easy. Pick up the wrong stick and not only could the bat itself let you down, but it could also highlight weaker parts of your game.
It’s why professionals take batting practice session after batting practice session with different bats. The very best players have to find the very best bat.
There are a number of things to look at when choosing what bat is right for you. But first among those things is quality.
If you’re not spending a few hundred on your new bat you can assume it’s not high quality. Of course, buying last year’s model is always an option and it usually costs less.
Quality matters so much because it affects the bat’s durability and performance. Lower quality bats will perform worse and wear out quicker.
Now that a little bit about choosing a bat, let’s look at how the 2017 Louisville Slugger Xeno performs in different bat metrics.
The 2017 Louisville Slugger Xeno comes with the same double barrel system, dubbed S1iD technology, as the 2016 model. It’s no update, but that’s certainly not a bad thing.
The dual barrels work in two layers, an inner layer and an outer layer.
The outer layer is flexible, giving the bat “pop.” The inner barrel works to control the “pop” of the outer barrel.
When a player hits the ball the outer barrel compresses until it makes contact with the inner barrel. This keeps the bat within competitive softball regulatory standards.
However, the dual barrel system’s design ensures that players of all skill levels achieve maximum power.
Players with slow bat speed benefit from the outer barrel flexibility, while those with high bat speed can take full advantage of the bat without breaking any regulations.
What results is a barrel system that makes the bat an excellent purchase for softball programs. Every player on the field can reap the benefits of the bat’s design.
The handle on the 2017 Louisville Slugger Xeno is formed from a two-piece composite transition segment that links the barrel and the bat handle.
The science behind the handle lies in the socket technology, which connects the handle and the barrel (the transition piece) while allowing the exact amount of flex needed for maximum “pop.”
In addition, this year’s transition piece is stiffer, offering more feel and better contact at the plate. Batters with quick bat speeds can also generate more power thanks to the stiffer handle.
The bat’s handle retains its excellent ability to resist vibration, as well as the standard Louisville Slugger grip tape.
The sweet spot on this bat has earned nothing but praise over the years, and the 2017 model is no different.
We’ll come right out and say it, the sweet spot on this bat is huge. It’s not uncommon for a routine fly ball to carry over the fence.
There’s a good chance that this bat turns your singles into doubles, and doubles into home runs. Even “poorly hit” balls look like driven liners in the gap.
Infields in your league will not like seeing the 2017 Louisville Slugger Xeno at the plate.
That said, don’t expect to hit homeruns during every at bat. Remember that the player does most of the work. No bat will ever replace diligent practice.
The 2017 Louisville Slugger Xeno comes with a variety of different drops, including -8, -9, -10, and -11.
As a refresher, the drop refers to the difference between the length and weight of the bat. For instance, a bat that’s 30 inches long and weighs 22 ounces would have a -8 drop.
Drop is an important variable in choosing the correct bat for your size. Generally, the smaller you are the lighter and shorter bat you should swing.
This ensures you’re able to move you hands through the strike zone. Lightweight bats also allow for greater barrel control.
Size up for bat weight and length as your strength and bat speed increase. Longer bats have better plate coverage and the extra weight gives your bat a bit more power.
It’s good to remember that competitive regulations limit your choices for your drop. Younger players should always try to quickly work up to drops legal in older divisions.
The quicker they adjust to the heavier bats, the quicker their bat speed will develop and the better they’ll fare against older competition.
Bat balance has a large impact on how well the player can control their swing. That is, how well they can maneuver the bat through the strike zone.
The 2017 Louisville Slugger Xeno’s balance lies closer to the batter’s hands, giving her more control through the strike zone.
This balance point also creates a lighter feeling swing. The light swing is especially deadly coupled with the large sweet spot, stiff transition segment, and double barrel system.
Maneuvering something with so much “pop” through the strike zone seems almost unfair. You’re definitely going to see your contact hits go farther with the Xeno.
There’s not much to say about this bat’s durability that someone hasn’t already said. This thing is a tank, plain and simple.
Louisville Slugger builds quality equipment. These bats will last just as long as any other top of line stick.
Actually, if there’s any category where the 2017 Louisville Slugger Xeno is average, it’s durability.
Bats these days all use relatively similar materials and last nearly identical lengths of time. If you’re buying a quality bat, its lifespan won’t become an issue.
However, abuse can significantly shorten any bat’s lifespan. Never use your game bat for batting practice, and never, ever, bang it against metal cleats or the backstop.
Anything but hitting a baseball during games will shortly “deaden” the bat. This is baseball slang for neutralizing its power.
What It All Means
After testing the 2017 Louisville Slugger Xeno against all of the usual baseball metrics, it’s fair to say the bat excels.
During real world use, what you’ll find is a bat that adapts to the player handling it. The adaptability is a huge plus, and not something you find in many bats.
We recommend that bat from little league up through the pros.
However, it’s much more likely that professionals will find more value here. The stiff transition segment and double barrel technology really give this bat the leg up on the competition.
If we had to narrow down our recommendation even further, we’d say this bat is best for high-level players with middle of the road bat speed.
The balance, large sweet spot, and dual barrel technology really help bring up your swing speed, even if your hands haven’t gotten any faster.
Players with high swing speed will see less benefit, and players with slow swing speeds won’t utilize the bat to its full potential.
Regardless, whether for yourself or a gift for someone else, you really can’t go wrong with the 2017 Louisville Slugger Xeno.
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We make it our mission to review the finest in softball equipment so you don’t have to. After all, with so many bats to choose from, picking the correct one takes some serious time.
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