Fastpitch softball is a very offensive minded game where hitting is key to a team’s success. In order to be a good fastpitch softball hitter you need a bat that is designed for the sport and that will complement your hitting characteristics. In this article we will investigate the best fastpitch softball bats available on the market today and help you choose a bat that will work well for you.
Choosing a Fastpitch Softball Bat
There are a number of factors to consider when purchasing a fastpitch bat for yourself or your child. All fastpitch bats will have a barrel diameter of 2 1/4 inches. The bat’s length and weight should be chosen to be suitable for the individual’s physical characteristics and their swing. A batter’s ability to make contact and generate power can be greatly affected by employing a balanced or end loaded bat.
Bats are manufactured using different materials that have their own advantages and disadvantages. Proper consideration of the choices available combined with some physical testing should allow you to find a bat that is tailored to your swing and hitting style. Let’s look more closely at how to pick the right bat.
Choose the Correct Length and Weight Bat
Here is a chart showing the proper bat length for you based on height and weight. These guidelines should be seen as a starting point as in some cases you may find that you prefer a bat slightly outside the recommended range. The bottom line is that you need to feel comfortable with your bat, so experiment with some different size bats if you feel you can benefit from a change.
After using these guidelines to choose your bat length a few physical tests will ensure it is a good size for you. Put the bat to your side and let your arm hang down naturally. If you can reach the handle with the palm of your hand the the size is correct. Another test is to hold the bat handle against the center of your chest and then reach out and attempt to grab the bat’s barrel. If you can then the bat should work for you.
Using a bat that is the proper length and weight is critical in your quest for a bat that will allow you to perform at your best. Many players assume that a heavier bat will enable them to hit the ball harder and further. Using a bat that is too heavy will hinder a batter’s swing and can lead to hip and arm injuries from strain caused by the extra weight. You want a bat that you can swing quickly and easily through the strike zone.
Bat weight is measured by what is termed the drop weight. This is simply the difference between the length in inches and the weight in ounces of the bat. For example a bat that is 30 inches long and weighs 20 ounces will have a drop weight of -10. Larger drop weights lead to bats that are lighter and easier to swing. Drop weights range from -8 to -14 for fastpitch softball bats.
The combination of bat length and weight will lead to certain characteristics that you need to balance in order to maximize your swing. Long, light bats are better for contact hitters who want to swing fast and emphasize contact over power. On the other hand, a home run hitter will want a heavier bat to promote more distance on contact. Experimentation is key and you should never use a bat just because you see another player having great success with it. Finding the perfect weight and length may be challenging but will pay off in your increased proficiency at the plate.
Balanced or End Loaded?
Another factor to take into account when choosing a bat is whether you want one that has a balanced weight or a bat that is end loaded. Your style of play and how you see yourself as a hitter will come into play when considering this aspect of fastpitch bats. Here is a video that shows the difference between the styles of bats.
A balanced bat has the weight evenly distributed throughout the bat and leads to a smoother, faster swing. Most bats with drop weights of -13 to -10 are balanced. These bats are better for contact hitters and those with average power. Younger players should almost always use a balanced bat to enable them to perfect their swing.
End loaded bats have extra weight concentrated in the barrel of the bat. These bats typically have drop weights of -8 or -9. They are harder to swing but if you are strong enough and can handle them they will generate more power on a well struck ball. End loaded bats are favored by power hitters who want to crush the ball.
Metal or Composite?
Modern fastpitch softball bats typically come in two major varieties. Alloy bats made out of aluminum or aluminum mixed with other metals make up one category. Composite bats made out of fiberglass, carbon fiber, graphite and other proprietary materials are also very popular. Each type of bat has its own distinctive properties that may lead you to choose one over another. Let’s take a look at the differences the two types of materials bring to the softball bat.
Aluminum or alloy bats are one piece bats that depend on the metal’s strength to allow for thinner and more responsive barrel walls. They are generally less expensive than top of the line composite bats and do not require a break in period. While they can be prone to denting, they do not crack and can be used even when dented. Alloy bats generally have smaller sweet spots than composite bats and therefore offer less pop. Good swing mechanics will overcome these issues and raise the alloy bat to the same level of performance afforded by a composite bat.
Composite bats have the advantage of using lighter materials which enable the barrel to be lengthened without adding additional weight. This leads to a bigger sweet spot and will give a player who is still developing hand-eye coordination an advantage over an alloy bat. Composite bats tend to cost more than alloy or aluminum bats. They also require a break in period before they will reach peak performance as seen in this video. Even though some manufacturers advertise their composite bat is good right out of the wrapper you will find that your bat performs better after you break it in.
Hybrid bats are also available. They usually incorporate an alloy barrel and a composite handle in an attempt to reap some of the benefits of each material. The lighter handle allows for a longer barrel than a traditionally manufactured alloy bat with no added weight.
One Piece Or Two?
A final consideration is whether you want a one or two piece bat. A one piece bat will use the same material throughout leading to a stiffer bat. This type of bat with minimal flex is preferred by power hitters. A two piece bat has a separate handle and barrel that are fused together. This design minimizes vibrations on mishits. Another advantage of a two piece bat is that the barrel flexes at the point of contact and creates a trampoline effect that gives the hitter increased pop.
Some of the Best Fastpitch Softball Bats Reviews - Which Is Right For You?
Now that we have seen that there is more to a bat than its price and appearance let’s take a closer look at some of the best bats out there.
The Quatro composite bat by Rawlings is meant be used by players at high school level or above. It is designed for middle of the order hitters and offers a combination of performance, balance, flex and distance. Rawlings uses a patented hinge technology that enables hitters to hit through the ball and generate bat speed and tremendous pop. Its two piece composite design incorporates Rawlings Quatro collar and vibration dampening technology (VDT) to absorb and minimize those nasty stinging vibrations. It is a balanced bat with a drop weight of -10 and comes in 30 and 31 inch lengths.
The Quatro is approved for play by the ASA and USSSA and comes with a one year manufacturer’s warranty. The 2016 National Champion Oklahoma Sooners named this their official bat. This is an excellent bat for contact hitters who also want to be able to generate some power when needed. It will cost you around 300 dollars to own this weapon.
The LXT Fastpitch by Louisville Slugger is a 3 piece, high performance composite bat. It employs Louisville Slugger’s TRU3 technology to connect the barrel to the handle which allows each to move independently. TRU3 absorbs vibrations and makes for smoother acceleration through the hitting area. Their patented PBF barrel technology leads to a large sweet spot and increased bat speed. An ultra lightweight X-cap also improves swing speed and durability.
The balanced LXT is Slugger’s best bat for those looking for maximum bat speed and is great for contact hitters. It is available in lengths from 28 to 34 inches and drop weights of -8 to -11. The company suggests that the -10 drop weight bat is the ultimate weapon for achieving your greatest swing speed and maximizing your power potential. The bat comes with a one year manufacturer’s warranty and is approved by ASA and USSSA. The LXT is priced at around 300 dollars.
The Xeno has been Louisville Slugger’s most popular fastpitch softball bat for several years. Though manufactured by the same company that makes the LXT, this bat offers some features that differentiate it from its cousins. This bat is a two piece composite with a balanced swing weight that is perfect for all players. Their IST Xstiff technology gives the bat a stiffer feel and increased energy transfer. S1ID barrel technology creates maximum pop on contact and a large sweet spot.
The Xeno uses the ultra lightweight X-cap for increased swing speed and control. It comes in lengths from 29 to 34 inches and drop weights between -8 and -11 so you can find one that best suits your swing. You can find this bat for a little under 300 dollars and it is approved for play by ASA and USSSA.
The Stealth bat by Easton has been around for a while but had been redesigned by the company to deliver more power and increased feel and performance. It is evenly balanced to promote better swing speed and its new FLEX barrel design offers 15% more compression giving it more pop right out of the wrapper.
Easton’s two piece Thermal Composite Technology and CXN Zero technology create a large sweet spot and reduce stinging vibrations. It is available in drop weights of -11 and -10 with lengths between 30 and 34 inches. An ultra thin handle and hyper skin grip give the bat stability through the hitting zone. The bat is approved by ASA and USSSA and can be found for under 200 dollars, making it an excellent value.
Bat manufacturer Axe incorporates a distinctive handle into their bat that is designed to increase power and swing speed while at the same time reducing the occurrence of hand injuries. This is a balanced, one piece alloy bat perfect for players desiring a stiffer bat than the composites offer. The handle will cause you to hit consistently on the same portion of the bat so a directional hitting face is employed to create a durable one-sided hitting surface. Hitters who have struggled with more traditional bats have seen noticeable improvement when using this unique bat.
If you are up to the challenge of trying something different to improve your game then you should give this bat a test run. The company offers a 30 day money-back guarantee if purchased through their website so you can try it risk free. You can get this bat in lengths from 28 to 32 inches with a drop weight of -12. This bat is approved for play by ASA and USSSA and can be obtained for under 100 dollars.
Here is another excellent composite bat from Mizuno. The two piece composite barrel and handle use Mizuno’s patented 2 PC Link construction to greatly reduce vibration to the hands. A stiff carbon handle reduces energy loss when connecting with a high speed pitch and is topped off with a comfortable Speed-Helix grip.
The Nighthawk’s double wall barrel gives the bat a large sweet spot and increased performance out of the wrapper. More pop is also afforded by an optimized end cap giving the bat greater flex and keeping weight away from the top of the bat. The cap additionally makes for a great sounding bat. It is available in drop weights of -8 to -11 and lengths up to 34 inches. You can get it for around 300 dollars and it is ASA and USSSA approved for play.
Here is a two piece, composite bat that is designed for the slappers on your team. Its long 14 inch barrel provides excellent plate coverage and the bat is weighted toward the hands to enhance barrel control. DeMarini’s 3Fusion System uses an end cap to optimize bat control and performance and a streamlined handle for superior feel and vibration reduction.
Its parallax composite barrel allows for precise weight distribution and extra pop for those times when you need to drive the ball. Available in lengths from 31 to 34 inches the bat features an RCK knob that has been designed to fit a player’s hand perfectly. USSSA and ASA approved, this is a high end bat that will set you back over 300 dollars, but is the ultimate bat for those slapper specialists out there.
Easton has produced a line of one piece, alloy bats that are crafted from airplane grade aluminum and all have a price tag of under 100 dollars. They all come in lengths from 28 to 33 inches and the line includes bats with drop weights of between -13 and -10.
These economically priced bats from one of the most renowned bat manufacturers combine performance with a price tag that won’t break the bank. An ultra thin handle and cushioned grip helps keep the bat under control and the variety of lengths and weights will enable you to get just the right bat for that aspiring softball player. These bats are approved by ASA and USSSA.
9. DeMarini 2018 CFX -8 Fast Pitch Bat - Best Fastpitch Softball Bat For Power Hitters - Best End Loaded Fastpitch Softball Bat
This may well be the ultimate bat for the power hitters out there. Its -8 drop weight gives it the end loaded feel sought by those wanting a heavier stick to swing for the fences. The two piece parallax barrel is created with 22% stronger composite material and leads to a precisely weighted bat with excellent flex and pop. The RCK knob for comfortable handling and the 3Fusion end cap round out this bat’s features.
It is ASA and USSSA approved and will set you back over 300 dollars. This is a serious bat for generating power and may be well worth the investment as you watch the ball fly over the fence. You can get this bat in lengths of 33 and 34 inches.
What is the Best Fastpitch Softball Bat For You?
Though this is not an exhaustive review of the many hundreds of bats on the market, we have seen a variety of styles and price points in the bats surveyed. As stated above, the real test of a bat is how it feels and performs for the individual player. That being said, we can make some recommendations based on price and performance characteristics.
The Rawlings Quatro is a great bat for the contact hitter. Its balance allows for fast swing speed but it also will generate enough power when called upon. This is my favorite bat for the vast majority of players who want to display a combination of power and contact. You cannot go wrong with this bat.
If you are a specialist such as a slapper or the team’s power hitter then DeMarini has a bat that is designed to perfect suit your needs. If you are serious about your sport and want the best tool to get the job done, then spend the money and get yourself a DeMarini.
Those of us with children know that outfitting them for sports can be an expensive proposition. I suggest the Easton Diamond Gem collection as a source of quality, aluminum bats that are under 100 dollars and will serve your child well as they learn the game.
I hope this article has helped you in your search for a fastpitch softball bat that will allow you to reach your full potential as a hitter. Keep experimenting until you find the stick that’s just right for you.