Every year, some of the top sports companies market their softball bats. Given the sheer volume of new models each year, it can become hard to find determine which the best softball bats are.
Typically, softball bats are made from wood, aluminum or composite material and feature a standard 2 ¼” barrel and are not any longer than 34 inches.
Baseball bats are similarly constructed from wood, aluminum or composite material and are 42 inches long at most, although most of them are shorter in length. The barrel of a baseball bat can’t exceed more than 2.75 inches.
Although the original baseball bats which pioneered the game were heavier in comparison, modern-day baseball bats typically weight between 0.90 kg and 1 kg.
The most notable difference between softball bats and baseball bats is that of length and barrel diameter. Baseball bats are longer than softball bats in most cases and carry a barrel with greater diameter.
Important Information You Should to Know
Before you determine the best softball and baseball bats, you should know this basic but vital information about these bats in general:
What is a Single Wall Bat?
Single wall bats are constructed in such a way that their barrel comprises of a single wall. Compared to double or multiple-wall barrels, a single-wall barrel offers less trampoline effect but is a lot heavier to wield and therefore gives a player advantage in terms of speed and the accuracy of swing timing. Single wall bats are typically constructed from aluminum which gives them good durability.
What is a Double Wall Bat?
A double wall bat is one that carries a barrel with reinforced walls. This means that inside the primary layer of the barrel with which a player hits, another layer of manufacturing material has been used to reinforce the structure of the barrel.
The key advantage a double-wall bat offers is that it comes with a greater trampoline effect compared to a single-walled bat. Greater trampoline effect means that you are able to channel more of your hitting force into the incoming ball and hit it farther. However, compared to a single-wall bat, a double-wall bat is heavier.
What is a One Piece Bat?
A one piece bat is constructed in such a way that the handle as well as the barrel of the bat is manufactured in a single, continuous piece. This also means that the exact same material is used in the construction of the entire bat, making it a uniformly constructed bat.
An identifying feature of a one-piece bat is that it is harder and stiffer so that the handle flexes little or not at all when you hit the incoming ball with the barrel. While such a stiff handle may not suit some players, it is perfectly suited to power hitters who rely on their swinging force to hit the ball into the distance.
A slight disadvantage of a one-piece bat is that due to its stiff construction, its handle may register significant feedback.
What is a Two Piece Bat?
A two-piece bat is one which is constructed so that the handle and barrel are manufactured separately and then bonded together in some way. In such bats, either the handle and barrel may be of the same material or they may have been constructed from different materials.
A major feature of a two-piece bat is that since the handle and barrel are not constructed in a single-piece, it allows a player to add more trampoline effect when hitting by utilizing the whipping effect of the handle.
Due to the flexibility of the handle, it is able to aid in the speed of the barrel in the hitting zone. Another advantage of a two-piece bat is that its handle registers little to no vibrations or feedback when the barrel makes contact with the ball.
What is a Balanced Bat?
A balanced bat is one in which the weight of the bat is distributed evenly from the barrel to the knob at the bottom of the bat. This makes it possible for a player to swing this bat with balance, without experiencing a tilt towards the barrel or handle.
A balanced bat is most frequently used by players simply because it is predictable and controllable. A player can control the swing momentum of such a bat as well as the placement of the incoming ball upon the barrel.
What is an End Loaded Bat?
An end loaded bat is a bat in which the weight is not evenly distributed and some extra load, typically half ounce or one ounce, are added towards the barrel-end so that the bat is barrel-heavy.
The advantage of using an end-loaded bat is that for a power player who can perfectly and confidently control the swing of the bat, swinging an end-loaded bat offers greater momentum and power through the hitting zone. An end-loaded bat, if wielded well by a player, typically hits longer shots than a balanced bat.
Material used in made Bats
Composite bats typically offer the greatest performance for hitters on the field. These bats are made from a vast range of composite materials such as graphite, fiberglass and most frequently, carbon fiber.
The material used in the construction of such bats is machine-manufactured and the consequent design of the bat is automated, making the internal structure of these bats very smooth and their barrel highly powerful in hitting.
Due to their high-performance index, composite bats are sometimes banned from certain leagues.
Aluminum bats use aluminum as the chief construction material and typically feature thin-walled barrels which are hollow on the inside. Aluminum bats usually have a center of mass which is closer to the handle which enables them to hit an incoming ball farther when compared to a wooden bat.
Aluminum bats are also significantly light-weight and inexpensive which makes them a fairly popular choice among amateur baseball players.
Alloy is usually the primary material which is used in the construction of single-wall bats. Alloy bats usually make use of pure aluminum or an aluminum mixture in their construction.
These bats have thinner walls, more responsive barrels and slimmer profiles, making them significantly light-weight, quick to swing and also inexpensive when compared to composite bats.
Hybrid bats, as the name suggests, combine the advantages of alloy and composite materials. A hybrid bat typically features a light-weight alloy barrel with thin walls and a lot of pop which is coupled with a handle made from composite material.
Such a bat has a significantly larger barrel with a sizable sweet spot while the composite handle is very light-weight and contributes to the overall light-weight profile of the bat. Hybrid bats are also durable but may not last a lot of rough and tough use.
Wooden baseball bats are usually constructed from ash, composite wood, maple or bamboo. Of these, bats made from bamboo wood are the strongest and more durable. On the other hand, ash wood bats are slightly softer which enables them to imitate the trampoline effect of composite and alloy bats.
Power hitters usually prefer maple bats which are hard and stiff, allowing a player to channel greater force into the barrel. Composite wood bats combine the qualities of wood and composite materials. They are very strong, durable and high-performing.
How to Determine Best Softball Bats
Type of Softball Bats
There are two major types of softball bats, namely slowpitch softball bats and fastpitch softball bats. Slowpitch softball bats are used in such softball matches where pitching speed is significantly slow.
As a result, slowpitch bats are designed to tackle a ball travelling as slow as 25 mph. Since a slowpitch player has to face a slow-moving ball and has plenty of time to respond, slowpitch bats are heavier, often between 26 and 30 ounces in weight.
Fastpitch bats, in comparison, are designed for such softball games where pitching speeds are significantly higher and a hitter has to respond quickly to a fast-incoming pitch.
Fastpitch bats are designed to hit a softball traveling at 80 mph, so they are lighter in weight and usually range between 23 and 28 ounces in weight.
Choosing the right bat that is certified for the league that you are playing in
Different leagues require players to carry bats which conform to a strict set of regulations. For example, some leagues may not allow composite softball bats while others may require you to use only such a bat which carries ASA’s approval tags. Generally, the most famous softball bat certifications are those offered by ASA and USSSA.
These certifications are usually stamped on the exterior of a softball bat, so a bat carrying ASA-approval stamp will be approved for all leagues requiring ASA bats. You should first check the bat requirements with you league before purchasing a softball bat. This will help you narrow down your choice to exactly such bats which are legal in your league.
As stated above, a number of materials are used in the construction of softball bats. These include wood, aluminum, alloy, composite and hybrid materials. For most players, softball bats made from alloy or composite materials do the job well.
Alloy bats are known for performing great at the plate while being durable and inexpensive, making them a good choice for beginners. Composite bats offer even better performance and are very durable but they may usually carry a steep price tag, making them more suitable for players who are already swinging confidently on the plate.
Standard weight of softball bats
There is no set standard for the weight of a softball bat. In general, softball bats may range from being less than 60 ounces in weight all the way to more than 180 ounces, depending on the length of the bat.
The greater the length, the more is the weight of a softball bat. On the basis of weight, softball bats can be divided into two types: balanced bats and end-loaded bats. Balanced bats are easier to swing, given more speed and are suitable for players who want to absolutely control their swing momentum.
End-loaded bats are more suited for power hitters who want some extra mass in the barrel which, if they use it effectively, translates into a lot of momentum hitting the ball into longer distances.
Standard length of softball bats
Softball bats range in length from 26 inches to 34 inches. A legal softball bat can’t exceed 34 inches in length. The length of a softball bat is directly tied to its corresponding weight. And both are related to your own height.
If you are taller, you will require a longer bat which will also carry greater weight. A suitable bat sizing chart will enable you to pin down the exact weight and length options that suit your physical prowess.
Choosing single wall or double wall bats
Both single wall bats and double wall bats have their pros and cons. Single wall bats are light-weight and easier to swing although they may not offer a lot of trampoline effect. You should choose a single-wall bat if you are looking more for speed than for hitting distance.
Especially if a heavier bat slows you down, a single wall bat is a great option for you. Conversely, if you are looking solely for some power hitting and are aiming to hit the ball into the distance, a double wall bat suits your needs more accurately.
A double-wall bat offers more trampoline effect, rebounding the softball into greater distance upon contact with the barrel. Although slightly heavy, a double-wall bat is perfect if you can master its weight and swing it quickly enough.
How to Determine Best Baseball Bats
Before determining best baseball bats, you need to know the following types of baseball bats:
BBCOR Baseball Bats
BBCOR refers to ‘Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution.’ BBCOR is a batting standard which is used to determine the performance of a given baseball bat.
Typically, the BBCOR standard limits the trampoline effect of a bat so that the bat is safe enough for use in certain league matches. A BBCOR baseball bat carries a barrel no larger than 2 5/8” in diameter, a 0.50 BBCOR value, a length that does not exceed 36” and a weight drop of -3 at most.
A BBCOR bat typically carries a ‘BBCOR Certified 0.50’ stamp on its exterior, making it possibly for you to easily identify such a bat. If your league requires the use of BBCOR bats, you will have to limit your bat choice in accordance with the requirements mentioned above.
Youth Baseball Bats
Youth baseball bats are meant for younger baseball players. Consequently, these bats are typically light-weight and usually have a weight drop of -8 to -13. Most youth baseball bats carry a barrel no larger than 2 ¼” in diameter.
Available in a variety of manufacturing materials, youth baseball bats are usually less expensive compared to adult baseball bats. These bats are available in composite, alloy and aluminum materials as well as in options of one-piece or two-piece designs. Most youth baseball bats are legal for use in leagues such as Babe Ruth, USSSA and AABC.
Drop3 Baseball Bats
Drop 3 baseball bats are such bats which have a length to weight difference of -3. For instance, if a bat has a length of 32 inches and a weight of 29 ounces, it is a drop 3 baseball bat. Same goes for a bat of 31” length and 28 ounces weight or 33” length and 30 inches weight.
Drop 3 baseball bats are also called high school bats, college bats and adult bats. More significantly, drop 3 baseball bats are often BBCOR bats since a major requirement of BBCOR bats is that they must have a drop 3 length to weight ratio. Consequently, all BBCOR bats are drop 3 and most drop 3 baseball bats released each year are BBCOR-approved as well.
Drop 5 Baseball Bats
Drop 5 baseball bats are such bats which have a length to weight different of -5. Typically, drop 5 baseball bats offer a lot of pop and are formidable hitters in the hands of a good player.
They are the last step for a young baseball player before he has to confront BBCOR regulations. In terms of weight and performance, many drop 5 baseball bats may actually perform closer to drop 3 baseball bats although this is not the case with all drop 5 bats.
How to choose Best Baseball Bats
The best baseball bat materials
Baseball bats are available in a number of manufacturing materials including wood, composite materials, aluminum alloys and hybrid materials. Of these, composite bats typically cost the most and are most preferred for top performance in league matches.
They are also significantly light-weight with a solid barrel which is significantly large. However, composite bats require a break-in period. Aluminum alloy bats are more durable, usually cost less than composite bats and are light-weight but heavier than composite bats.
Aluminum alloy bats are ready for use right out of wraps and don’t need a break-in period. They also have a smaller barrel compared to composite bats. Wood baseball bats are comparatively inexpensive but they break oftener and are heavier than composite and aluminum alloy bats.
In terms of performance, composite and aluminum alloy bats usually perform far better than wood baseball bats on the plate. Finally, hybrid baseball bats are a cross between composite and alloy bats. They carry composite handles and aluminum alloy barrels, making them easier to swing but relatively heavier in weight than pure composite bats.
They are good performers, ready for use out of the wraps, less expensive than composite bats and better hitters than purely aluminum alloy bats.
The standard weight and length of baseball bats
Size of barrel in baseball bats
Different baseball bats feature barrels of different diameters. Typically, if you are playing in a league, your league will provide you guidance as to what is the maximum size of the barrel you can use in your bat.
For instance, in Senior League baseball matches, both big barrels and standard barrels are used. A big barrel is 2 ¾” in diameter while a standard barrel is 2 5/8” in diameter. At maximum, a baseball bat can have a barrel diameter of 2.75 inches and no more than that.
Note to certification
You should learn about the certifications which are required for the league you are playing in. Different leagues require different certifications. Some leagues, for example, require your bat to be stamped with BBCOR certification, others may require you to have USSSA, ASA or NSA certifications.
If you don’t follow these requirements closely, you may end up with an illegal bat at the field where you will be penalized for it and barred from playing the game. So it is always advisable to consult your coach, get detailed information about your league and know the exact certifications that are required for the matches you are going to play.
Once you have this information, you can then choose from a shortlisted set of best softball bats and find the bat that suits you best.