One of the most common questions around the baseball diamond these days often revolves around what is the hottest softball bat available to players. It’s difficult to pick just one as often this can be quite a subjective thing, with different users weighing different factors to determine what truly makes a good bat.
In this article we’ll talk about some of the differences between different softball bats as well as different options in feel and weight between multiple bats. We’ll then close off with 5 of the very best bats across all associations and our top pick.
Which Association Has The Hottest Bats?
The main governing softball associations are USSSA, NSA and ASA. USSSA, or U-trip, uses the same bat regulations as NSA. Generally any bat that you find for U-trip can be used in NSA and vice versa. The differences between the two leagues are homerun rules, pitch arc and height, among other things.
Bats allowable for use in U-trip and NSA are hotter than those in ASA, though ASA is likely the largest of all governing softball associations. The allowable exit speed of U-trip and NSA is higher than ASA, which caps exit speed at 98 mph; so by definition you will have bats that perform better (hit the ball harder and further). In fact, it was not too long ago (a decade or so) that the hottest and most desirable ASA bats were two that had exit speeds of 100 mph, namely the Miken Freak 100 and Easton’s Synergy 2. ASA then quickly banned those two bats and ever since have kept exit speeds under 98 mph.
Balanced Or End-Loaded?
One common debate between ballplayers is the benefit of balanced bats versus end-loaded sticks. Balanced bats swing more evenly and can give a bit more control as the bat will feel lighter with the weight more evenly distributed. End-loaded bats, on the other hand, feel like the end is weighted and thus you will feel like you are whipping the bat head around like a sling. This also teaches players to lead with their hands and throw the bat head forwards with the top hand.
What’s The Best Swing Weight?
The most common swing weights are 27 and 28 ounces, but there are many players who will prefer to swing something lighter like 26 ounce or go on the heavy side at 30 ounce. It comes down to personal preference at the end of the day, but in general you will want to swing a weight that is comfortable for you and will maximize your bat speed. You will want to swing as high a weight as possible without losing bat speed and bat control.
How Do I Break In A Softball Bat?
Here’s some notes to keep in mind after buying a new softball bat when you want to break it in and get it game ready:
- Weather: use it on a warm day, don’t take it out when it is too cold
- Ball compression: don’t use anything that is too mushy, find something higher compression
- Rotation: after each hit, rotate the bat ¼ rotation for the next swing
- Squaring up: try to hit the ball consistently in the same part of the barrel (not too high or too low) to break open the sweet spot
Product Reviews - Which Is Right For You?
Here are 5 great choices for youth big barrel baseball bats for the 2017 season:
Miken Freak 30 Maxload Kevin Filby
A ridiculously hot stick, the Miken Freak Kevin Filby edition is a U-trip certified bat with a large sweet spot and amazing look and feel. It has a slight end-load that makes it swing a bit heavier, but most players should have no problem with this if they are used to end-loaded bats. It is very hot immediately out of the wrapper and has a great sound when you made solid connection with the sweet spot.
- Increased sweet spot size.
- Tri-matrix core construction gets rid of wall seams with a carbon process that is said to increase both durability and performance.
- Handle flex technology allows batters to whip bat head through the strike zone.
- 100% premium aerospace fiber construction.
- 2-piece bat with an end-loaded feel.
- Incredibly hot right out of the wrapper.
- Feels a bit heavier than weight may suggest due to end-load.
- Not approved for ASA play.
A great stick that requires almost no break-in time, very good pop right away. Good contact and feel with a nice sweet spot, no current durability concerns.
Worth: HD52 Tech
Worth is back up to the plate with the HD52 Tech, a very balanced offering that swings perfectly level with a fair amount of pop and power. The balanced feel results in a bat that is very easy to control that can smack line drives to all fields while adding a bit of pop to put balls over the fence as well. It’s a nice throwback to the Jeff Hall Mayhem that Worth produced several years ago, with a similar look and feel.
- Once broken in, very good pop.
- Triple-walled bat barrel maximizes performance and wall compression upon impact.
- Great on low compression balls, which is common in ASA leagues.
- Excellent balanced feel, one of the most evenly balanced bats available.
- Approved for play in ASA.
- Reasonably-priced, not too high.
- Some break-in time required.
The perfect weight distribution for anyone looking for a balanced bat, the HD52 Tech crushes low compression balls and is a great choice in ASA leagues
DeMarini: Juggy OG
It’s good to stick with what works, and DeMarini goes back to their roots with the OG Juggy, a nice throwback to the incredibly popular Juggernaut released many years ago. The end result is an updated look and better construction with a similar feel to the original Juggernaut, that will have fans old and new clamoring for more.
- End-loaded barrel with three walls gives a nice trampoline effect on hits.
- Decently sized sweet spot.
- Approved for use in ASA leagues.
- Stiffer end cap design reduces the mishits and channels energy back to the sweet spot.
- Fairly hot right out of wrapper, but really gets going after about 300 hits.
- Feels lighter than most other bats that have an end-load.
- Two-piece construction for nice flex feel, especially in the handle.
- Good for low compression balls.
- Handle may be too thin for some.
DeMarini hit the nail on the head with this one, and it absolutely murders low compression balls in ASA leagues. Excellent pop out of the wrapper that heats up even more as you get more hits on it.
DeMarini: Flipper Aftermath
The Flipper Aftermath is again another throwback to the older DeMarini bats of yesteryear, with a super stiff alloy handle that swings heavy. Again focusing on the lower compression balls that are used in ASA play, the Flipper Aftermath is designed for power and performance. The only downside is concerns with durability, which might be expected with a bat this hot.
- SC4 handle with alloy construction is stiff and firm.
- 13” long barrel made of 100% composite material.
- Large sweet spot using DeMarini’s Divergence technology.
- Terrific on low compression balls.
- Advertised as balanced but still has a nice end-loaded feel to it, mostly due to the stiff handle.
- Hot out of the wrapper.
- Durability concerns across the board, especially if used in cold weather.
Don’t buy this one to share with friends, keep it as your gamer and you’ll be good to go. Some concerns with durability but DeMarini will warranty within the first year if it develops any cracks or webbing. Make sure you hang onto your receipt. Super hot bat overall.
Easton is last on our list with another re-invention of the Salvo, one of the most popular bats from a few years ago. Fans will remember the incredibly balanced feel as the one-piece design capitalized on control while not sacrificing any pop and power. The new and improved version is no different, and features the same feel with solid power production as well.
- Good pop, very nice balanced feel.
- Consistent results when you hit the sweet spot, which is featured on a 13.5” composite barrel.
- Approved for play in ASA leagues.
- Reasonably priced.
- Good pop out of the wrapper, warms up even more with increased use.
- 29/32“ handle features gauze grip that does not feel that nice, may need to be replaced with your own grip or bat tape.
If you are a fan of a balanced bat, the Salvo may be a good choice for you - especially if you enjoyed Easton’s work in the past. It swings similar to the Salvo and Synergy Extended bats from the mid-late 2000’s.
Love the DeMarini: Juggy OG this year and it is one of the best softball bats to come along in a long time - especially if you play in an ASA league. Softball bats are still a personal, subjective choice - any of the options above are wonderful picks, so be sure to check out what leagues you play in to determine what bat you should get.