If you’re anything like me, you can’t wait for the start of a new season as it means new ASA softball bats will soon be released. They hype surrounding a new bat is only matched by the first time you break a new bat out of the wrapper and take it out onto the diamond with you.
There is nothing quite like stepping into a batter’s box with a new softball bat on your shoulder, ready to hear the crack of the bat as you step into a pitch. With the introduction of new bats next season, we shouldn’t forget that there are already some terrific ASA softball bats available today. We’ll go through the best of the best a little later in this article.
Single-Piece Or Two-Piece Bat?
One of the most common decisions for those looking for a new softball bat is whether to buy a single-piece or two-piece bat. Both have their advocates, and you’ll have to find out what works for you.
For single-piece bats, the construction from handle all the way down to the barrel is one-piece, meaning the bat will not provide much flex. Those who enjoy single-piece bats prefer the stiffness as they will claim it gives a truer feel when they make contact with a pitch. The overall feel of the bat will be very balanced as it the weight will be distributed throughout the bat.
On the other hand, two-piece bats have a separate barrel construction that will give a lot more flex. The result is a bat that feels like it has more give, and consequently it will not be as balanced but will feel more end-loaded. Those who like end-loaded bats feel the extra barrel weight helps them accelerate their swing through the strike zone. Think of it like swinging a hammer with a heavy head, the weight itself will help you as you throw your hands through a swing.
At the end of the day, it is personal preference and choice based on what type of feel you are looking for in a softball bat. Generally speaking, those looking for more control will prefer balanced bats, while players looking for a bit more pop and power will choose an end-loaded stick.
5 Things You Want In A Softball Bat
Because softball bats are fairly subjective in terms of look and feel, it can be difficult to know which softball bat to buy. Here are 5 things that you should look for in buying a new softball bat:
- Durability: you don’t want to spend $300 on a softball bat only to have it break a month later.
- Flawless barrel: there’s a quick trick you can do to check if the barrel of a bat is perfectly round; take a towel and wrap it around the barrel, then run your hand back and forth to look for any dents or flat spots.
- Match your climate: if you play in cold weather, find something that can handle the lower temperatures.
- Pick the right weight: find a weight that you’re comfortable with, usually between 26oz to 30oz. Keep in mind that an end-loaded bat (even at a lighter weight) will feel heavier than a balanced bat.
- Association Stamps: make sure the bat you are buying is sanctioned for play in the leagues that you regularly play in. Look for a stamp that certifies it for ASA, USSSA, NSA, etc.
Product Reviews - Which Is Right For You?
Let’s get right to it - here are the top 5 ASA softball bats we are recommending for the 2018 season.
DeMarini Flipper OG 17 Slow Pitch Softball Bat
The DeMarini Flipper OG is a two-piece bat with a huge sweet spot due to its Divergence technology that sandwiches two composite layers with a small air gap, allowing for the double barrel walls to flex independently (similar to a trampoline).
Early reviews so far show the Flipper OG performing great for high compression softballs, especially in warmer weather. Incredible distance and exit speed and fairly hot straight out of the wrapper, but opens up even more after 150-200 hits.
- ZnX (zinc unified with aluminum) Alloy Handle decreases flex while increasing barrel performance
- Concave design of dish end cap propels energy towards sweet spot
- Divergence barrel creates a highly responsive sweet spot
- Short break-in period
- Durability can be questionable, you may start to notice webbing on your barrel if used in colder temperatures.
Way more than just a facelift from last year’s version, the Flipper OG has added some serious pop and power.
Easton Raw Power Slowpitch Softball Bat
Easton hits the ball out of the park again with the Bomb Squad. This sleek looking softball bat will be sure to take your game to the next level with its sturdy feel (thanks to greater barrel mass and end loaded swing weight) resulting in more powerful hits with greater distance.
The endload is a nice touch as it enables you to really maximize your power, it is great for smaller players who still want to hit bombs.
- More mass in IMX Advanced Composite barrel results in softer feel on contact despite maximal hitting power
- End loaded swing weight increases power and distance of hits
- ConneXion (CXN) Technology unites IMX barrel to its stiff SIC Black Composite handle minimizing the amount of energy created by player’s swing
- Variable break-in period
This bat is a must for players looking for a lightweight bat that will deliver on power and ease of use. With the Bomb Squad, you’ll be hitting ball after ball and feeling like a champ.
Miken Supermax Denny Crine
The DC-41 Supermax is another in a long line of bombdroppers from Miken. A bit stiffer than your previous Miken’s, it has a smaller sweetspot but when you hit it, the ball really flies. As with any Miken, the batted ball distance and exit speed will only improve with time and this really turns into a tank. Durability is excellent as long as you keep it out of very cold weather.
- Triple Matrix Core eliminates wall seams for maximal performance and durability
- Flex 2 Power gives additional handle flex to give a greater endloaded feel without increasing the actual weight of the bat
- 100% premium aerospace grade fiber increases durability
- Less flex than typical Mikens
- Smaller sweetspot
If you’re a fan of Miken but prefer something with a bit less flex, this is an amazing choice. Small sweetspot but the ball is absolutely crushed if you hit it right on. Insane exit speed and will easily clear 300 foot fences. Has a nice balanced feel overall like any of your other Miken favorites.
Easton Salvo Composite Balanced ASA/USSSA Slow-Pitch Softball Bat
The Salvo is one of my all-time favorites and once again they’ve knocked it out of the park with their latest version. One of the most balanced bats that you’ll ever find, this closely resembles the feel of the incredibly popular Synergy 2.
The single-piece composite design gives you a huge sweetspot that is fairly forgiving if you miss high or low. Great durability and a quick break-in time, there is really little to dislike about the Salvo.
- Incredibly balanced
- Single-piece composite
- Large sweetspotExcellent durability
- Quick break-in period
- Single-piece barrel to eliminate sting on mishits.
- No endload so may not suit all batters
- Not suitable for use in colder climates
A balanced slowpitch softball bat with a nice look and feel - great for both singles / line-drive hitters as well as those who want to drop bombs.
Louisville Slugger Z4 Endload ASA WTLZ4A16E Slowpitch Softball Bat
The Z4 was one of the most anticipated offerings ever when it was first introduced in 2014, and the latest version definitely captures all that excitement and more. The most unique thing about the Z4 is the sound, moving away from the typical crack or ping of a bat to a sound that can best be described as ‘glass-like’.
You really have to hear it for yourself, but it is impossible to argue with the results. There’s a reason the Z4 has become a favorite for players all around the world, and the 2016 version is an amazing addition to this ever-growing series.
- 100% composite material with TRU3 construction system that locks barrel and handle together
- Best in class carbon fiber material
- Fairly balanced bat
- Unique sound
- Barrel is a bit shorter at 12”
- Good sweetspot size
Great choice for anyone who loved the Z3 or prior Z4 bats from Louisville Slugger.
What Bat Reigns Supreme?
All 5 bats mentioned above will be fantastic choices for the new season, but personally I’m going with the Z4. I switched from Easton to LS late last year and had terrific results in the playoffs, and I’m all aboard the Z4 train. The weight and feel of the Z4 gives me just what I need in a bat, with enough weighting to add some pop to my gap shots that previously weren’t clearing the fence.
Whichever bat you choose, I hope you’ll find the one that is right for you and start the season out strong. I can’t wait to get back out there in the spring; see you on the field!