Top Slowpitch Softball Bats For The 2017 Season
Spring is here which means it is time for softball season again, and many coaches and players are gearing up for slowpitch softball leagues all around the world. As the warmer weather approaches and the days get longer, thoughts turn towards the diamond and now is a great time to take stock of all the newest slowpitch softball bats for the 2017 season to see what is the right choice for you.
What Bats Are Allowed In My League?
Before you run out and purchase a slowpitch softball bat, you should look at your league certifications and see what bat is allowable for play in the league. The worst thing would be to purchase a bat that is disallowed or banned in the league you play in. Many players who play in more than one softball league will consider purchasing multiple bats for this very reason, as the very best bat in an ASA league, for example, will not come close to matching the standards of bats in an NSA or USSSA league. This is because NSA and U-trip have higher exit speeds than allowed by ASA. Note that the bats are only one part of what is different between these three big leagues; the balls used in play also vary based on compression. Be sure to check your league rules to see what bats are legal and approved for use before deciding on one to purchase.
What Should I Look For In A Slowpitch Softball Bat?
One of the biggest considerations in purchasing a slowpitch softball bat is the feel of the bat in your hands. Taking a few swings with the bat will let you know whether or not it feels either balanced or end-loaded. Balanced bats tend to swing lighter and will feel very ‘natural’ when swinging. An end-loaded bat, in comparison, will feel heavier and weightier, even if the posted weight is the same. Swinging this feels more like carrying a hammer, where the one end is weighted heavier than the handle. It’s difficult to say which is better as it really comes down to personal preference for each hitter.
Another thing to pay attention to when purchasing a slowpitch softball bat is choosing the proper weight for yourself. Ideally you will want to find something that is comfortable to swing, and a good rule of thumb is to go as heavy as you can without sacrificing any bat speed when swinging. Generally slowpitch softball bats range in weight from 26 to 30 ounces, though you can always find exceptions.
Product Reviews - Which Is Right For You?
Below are 5 slowpitch softball bats we love for 2017 across all 3 associations:
DeMarini Flipper OG 2017
The 2017 version of DeMarini’s Flipper OG is a nice improvement on prior versions with the same technology that kept fans coming back for more. The 13” divergence barrel creates a large sweetspot and it works especially well on low compression softballs. The new ZnX handle actually reduces flex and makes the bat a bit more ‘stiff’, which most users should find will improve the performance of the bat. It also reduces hand sting without sacrificing too much control. This is a terrific bat if you’re familiar with DeMarini’s product offerings, and a great choice for anyone looking for a bat with a 13 inch barrel.
- Slight end-load feel and weight.
- Divergence double-walled technology in the composite barrel provides a trampoline-like effect on contact.
- ZnX all-aluminum alloy construction reduces handle flex and transfers flex to the barrel.
- Ready to go right out of the wrapper, low break-in time.
- Approved for play in ASA leagues.
The 2017 version of the OG Flipper only seems to improve upon the 2015 and 2016 models without sacrificing any of the trademark pop and power that have made this bat so popular for ASA players.
Axe 2017 Revenge
Axe’s 2017 version of the revenge is similar to prior iterations, with the same two-piece carbon fiber construction to create an oversized barrel with a sweetspot that is difficult to miss. The best thing about the Axe is the handle which is supposed to help hitters better transfer power without losing any energy or bat speed. It also reduces the risk of wrist injuries that are common with younger batters, and limits the amount of stinging on balls that are not squarely hit. The main problem with prior versions of the Axe was durability, and it’s still to be determined if the 2017 version improves upon prior editions.
- Handle (patented) creates better whip and helps reduce injuries on swings.
- Approved for play in all three major associations.
- Balanced swing weight and feel.
- Large barrel.
- Modified handle grip is not for everyone.
- Durability remains a concern.
It began as a bit of a gimmick, but users who have really taken to the Axe swear by the efficiencies and improvements gained with the handle. The 2017 version is worth a shot to see if it works for you.
Easton Brett Helmer 2017 Edition
The biggest difference in the 2017 version of Easton’s Brett Helmer is the added 0.5 ounce end load which should give hitters a bit more power, if they can get used to it. Easton generally makes very balanced sticks (think back to the Synergy series), so this is a nice evolution for the brand. It features the same TCT technology that creates a large sweetspot and after a few hundred hits to break it in, it really opens up and starts shining through. Don’t be afraid to use it in colder weather as well, as Helmers are known to be quite durable and built like tanks.
- Features a larger sweetspot due to the TCT (Thermo Composite Technology) construction.
- Two-piece construction with Easton’s Connection Zero technology.
- Durable and able to be used in most climates.
- Carbon handle to eliminate vibration and hand stinging.
- Only approved for play in ASA, not allowed in NSA or USSSA.
A good option if you are a fan of Easton bats as the quality and craftsmanship is never questionable. Good bat to try if you’re curious about the slight end-loading in the 2017 version.
Louisville Slugger Z4 2017
LS has been building a huge following with the Z line and the Z4 for the 2017 season looks to follow that pattern. Same SRC composite material providing maximum flex and minimum vibration, both the look and feel of this bat will have hitters eager for the warmer weather to arrive. The friction blast finish (FBF) adds distance and power to hits, and Louisville Slugger adds the same TRU3 power transfer technology to this year’s line as well. All in all a very solid offering that is sure to be a popular choice at the diamond this year.
- Unique 3-piece design is recognized as pushing industry standards.
- 12” barrel is treated with friction blast finish technology.
- End-loaded for maximum distance and pop.
- TRU3 power technology.
- Approved for play in all associations.
- Doesn’t have the traditional ‘pop’ or ‘crack’ sound - new hitters will need to get used to it.
Those who use it swear by it, and it is easy to anticipate that the 2017 version of the Z4 will win over even more fans. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and that is Louisville Slugger’s approach to this fan favorite.
DeMarini 2017 Mercy
The second DeMarini bat to make this year’s list, the Mercy received rave reviews last year as it burst onto the scene marketed for women’s leagues. It turns out it has just as many male fans, as it is incredibly hot right out of the wrapper and it absolutely crushes the ball, regardless of the gender of the batter. The composite barrel uses 4.ONE technology creating multiple layers of composite material leading to a large sweetspot that is very responsive to the ball.
- Hot out of wrapper, but gets even hotter with increased use.
- 4.ONE barrel design is incredibly stiff to generate maximum power.
- Slight endload.
- Grip is not great, you will likely need to replace it.
- Not all batters may be used to stiff barrel.
- Only comes in 25 and 26 ounce offerings.
A great option if you’re okay swinging a lighter weighted stick, as what you lose in bat weight you’ll make up for in bat speed and power. Don’t be fooled by the fact that you see this used in ladies leagues; this bat will smoke the ball in all leagues across all associations.
Finding the best slowpitch softball bat is never an easy task, as so much of it comes down to personal preference. Any of the options above are worthy choices, but personally the Louisville Slugger Z4 takes the cake for me. LS has stepped up their game in the past few years and this year is no exception, the Z4 is a fantastic bat that you’ll see quite often at ballparks this year.