The warm sun is gently shining down as you make your way on to the green field. As you step on to the grass, you feel the supple cushioning of the freshly watered and mowed lawn under your shoes. In your hands is the comforting embrace of a cool piece of metal, weighing 26 ounces, perfectly rounded and weighted to your fingers wrapped around it. You hear someone shout and throw a ball at you. In that instant, you feel the energy rising in you and your body rotates in motion with the approaching ball. Suddenly, the satisfying thud of metal interacting with leather sends a smile to your face as you observe it disappearing into the distance.
Top Fastpitch & Slowpitch Softball Bat Comparison Chart
|Picture||Name||Category||Price||Where to Buy?|
|1. Louisville Slugger Xeno Plus 17 Fast Pitch Bat||Fastpitch||$$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|2. Anderson Flex Slow Pitch Bat||Slowpitch||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|3. DeMarini CF9 Insane -10 Fast Pitch Bat||Fastpitch||$$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|4. Axe Bat Origin SR YOUTH USSSA||Youth||$||Check Price on Amazon|
|5. Easton Mako Beast Composite Youth Bat ||Youth||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|6. 2017 Miken Freak Patriot Maxload Slow Pitch Bat||Slowpitch||$$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|7. Louisville Slugger X12 Fastpitch Bat||Fastpitch||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|8. DeMarini Bustos -13 Fastpitch/Youth Bat||Youth/ Fastpitch||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|9. Worth Triple Crown XL Slow Pitch Bat||Slowpitch||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|10. Easton Stealth Flex 10 Fast Pitch Bat||Fastpitch||$$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
If this scene is familiar with you, then you know you’re imagining an afternoon on the softball field. Whether it’s a little league game, a hit around with friends, or a serious competition, the feeling is the same. One of the most important aspects of achieving this is the bat that you carry. Softball bats have come a long way since the first games, and the one in your collection may be one of many of such types. If you’re thinking about upgrading, then it’s important to consider what you want it for and what is the right type for you.
Every individual has a different style and preference, so there is much more to it than simply picking one up in store. There is the material, the weight, and how the bat is designed, as well as of course your budget. Kids too change as they grow older and what will work for them one year may not be optimal for the next. So before you head out on to the field this coming softball season, consider your options when it comes to bats. This guide will be here to help you in selecting the perfect one for your hitting pleasure.
Softball Bat Buying Guide
Types of Bats
Some of you may remember when picking up a bat meant going for the meatiest, heaviest piece of timber imaginable to slug that ball out of the park. Perhaps due to their high-quality construction, such bats are still around and in use to this day. They’re absolutely fine, but if you’re more serious about what you want out of your game, then it’s worth to check out what types of bats there are available.
The first consideration will depend on the category of softball game you want to play. There are three main variations – Fast Pitch, Slow Pitch and Youth. Fastpitch is the more professional, with no restrictions on speed or angle of pitching. Slowpitch restricts the pitcher to throw the ball in an arc and at a moderate speed. Youth softball is actually the same as Youth baseball, using the same equipment.
Most bats are made out of aluminum or a composite material such as carbon fiber. Wooden ones are still around however they are progressively being outnumbered by the metallic varieties. Aluminum bats were introduced in the 1970’s and for decades enjoyed a steady rise in popularity. This was until composite materials made bats even lighter and improved performance. Some complained that the aluminum bats did not perform as well as the older wooden varieties. In recent times, the technology of the composite materials has made this argument almost obsolete. Of course, a bat that is made of carbon fiber will be quite expensive and really only for those looking for top performance, for example in competitions.
Another consideration is the way the bat is made. Every individual has a preferred way of swinging the bat. Perhaps they are after a slower, more powerful swing. Or maybe they enjoy lightness in a bat in order to produce a quick slap. Then there are those in between who want to be able to have the balanced swing of both. Ultimately, you also want to maximize the impact when the bat hits the ball. Known as the ‘trampoline effect’, it is a way of describing the stiffness of the bat and is an indication of how it compresses when it interacts with the ball. Generally the stiffer the bat, the more the kinetic energy will transfer to the ball, resulting in a higher ball speed.
In summary, what you want out of the bat will vary with every individual. We have presented a general guide so that you gain more knowledge and therefore have a better idea on how to choose the next bat for you or your kids.
Choosing the Right Bat
If you’re a casual hitter, maybe playing a game once a year with friends, then it doesn’t really matter what you have. Even if you happen to have a baseball bat around, then it would suffice, as long as you get used to hitting a heavier and larger ball around with the shorter bat. Softball bats, on the other hand, cannot be used for baseball, as they are not designed to hit the stronger and faster speeds of baseballs. Either way, it’s always best to have the correct one for safety as well as performance.
As we discussed, there are three main variations of the game, and subsequently there are bats made for each specific purpose. Within these categories are the different material types and stiffness, in order to customize your preference by the way you play. To break it down even further, you can select from a one piece or a two piece bat. One-piece softball bats use the same material throughout the entire design. The advantage of the one-piece design is that you get a stronger, stiffer bat that is generally favored by power hitters looking for as little flex as possible. But they do have increased vibration which might result in some discomfort. In two-piece softball bats you’ll find that the handle is separate from the barrel and that the two are bonded together. If you’re looking for a design that reduces the vibration in the handle while maximizing the trampoline effect, then this one might be for you.
Some players gauge the quality of their hit by the noise that is produced when hitting the ball. The aluminum bats tend to have a higher pitch ‘ping’ while the composite materials lessen the noise and produce more of a ‘pop’. While it may not directly impinge on where the ball ends up, this can be an important consideration for some people, particularly those that have used a material for many years. Keep this in mind if you think you may be in that category!
Aluminum or Composite?
Because wooden bats are basically obsolete, and those that use them have a particular purpose for doing so, we won’t go into the details as to why a wooden bat should or should not be considered. We will, however, focus on the attributes that differentiate the aluminum bats with their composite cousins. The aluminum bats are usually made in a one-piece design. The material allows them to have a thinner wall that is more responsive, resulting in a faster hit. Composite bats are made out of strong and light materials such as carbon fiber and graphite. They are generally made as a two piece with the alloy bonded to the handle, resulting in a very light and powerful bat that has an increased trampoline effect. The latter are more expensive so it may depend on your budget. Also, with aluminum technology having been around a long time, the engineers have ensured that most bats will provide you with the necessary firepower and strength you need. Ultimately, again it comes down to you as a batter and what you prefer.
ASA Certified Bats
The Amateur Softball Association has put into place a few standards to ensure the safety of players, particularly juniors. As a result, the standard has been set as a maximum of 98 mph batted ball speed, meaning the speed from the bat. There are some bats under different standards that can be made at a higher level with higher performance, but you will find they are usually banned in any organized competitions. Therefore, if you or your kids are members of a club or looking to join, it’s best to stick with the ASA standard to ensure entry into your league.
Our guide provides a list of the top ten softball bats for the 2017 season. In it, we have tried to span the categories of fast pitch, soft pitch and youth as much as possible in order to give you the broadest information.
Best Slowpitch & Fastpitch Softball Bat Reviews
Louisville has presented here an upgrade on what was already one of the best bats going around. For years, the Xeno Plus has been amongst the top performing bats, drawing a huge fan base that keeps coming back. The 2017 version is high performance with an extra high, made up of a composite barrel that is double walled for that extra resistance without comprising on flexibility. The composite material is bonded with a comfortable and flexible grip that is designed to minimize the unpleasant rebound from a mis-hit. A larger barrel ensures the sweet spot is bigger and any ball that enters this zone is sure to disappear to the edge of the field. Those who enjoy a balanced weight will find more to celebrate with this model weighted so that the swing feels light and responsive. This fast pitch bat is certified for use in ASA and all other major regulators to ensure it will remain the top of the line bat for at least another year. Being a top of the range bat also means that the price is top of the range too. Therefore this bat is ideal for the serious player who is part of a league and whose budget allows for it. Basically, if you can afford it, then you won’t find a better bat.
- Well balanced swing
- Large barrel
- Double-walled barrel
Utilizing aerospace material for an ultralight, super strong bat, the Anderson Flex is another that has improved on an already excellent product. The 2 ¼” barrel is constructed with a single piece special aluminum made of alloys used in aerospace, ensuring this bat is practically indestructible. The barrel is a single wall that makes it quite stiff and gives it a more focused but rewarding sweet spot. It has been end loaded with ½ oz weight to give it that extra power. This will appeal particularly to those who enjoy a steady powerful swing but not so much for the player looking for a lighter, quick swing. The price makes it a good quality, affordable bit of gear that would be at home for the weekend hitter in a social club or a semi-professional league. You also have the assurance of it being ASA certified for use anywhere. This bat is an excellent quality product deserving of its place in our review.
- Aerospace alloy material
- Large barrel
- End loaded for more power
- Not the best for players with light swings
Insane is the name of the game! This DeMarini wonder is for the serious player looking for high performance. Made into a two piece with a composite carbon fiber material called Paraflex, it is also end loaded to give the player who enjoys a thundering swing the delight of such a powerful bat. The handle has been specially designed to redirect as much of that kinetic energy back into the ball, producing a big trampoline effect. Customers have noted how durable the bat is and the satisfying pop they feel when bat and ball connect. DeMarini have marketed this bat to the more professional players, and therefore it is priced accordingly. If you’re a beginner to the game or have not yet established the nature of your swing, then it might be best to skip this one for now and look at another until you’re ready for such a specialized bat.
- Top quality producing a lethal swing
- Revolutionary technology handle
- End loaded for (even) more power
- Lightweight composite material
- Not suitable for beginners
The first youth bat in our lineup, the Axe Origin is designed for those who are entering the game but looking for a good quality bat. It is constructed using a single piece alloy material which is light and comfortable, but also durable to ensure you have a good number of seasons out of it. With an angled end cap, the bat is designed to be hit only on one side, as the weight is distributed to favor the hitting side, producing more power and removing unnecessary weight. Another great feature for beginners in the Axe series is the patented axe handle grip. It is ideal for juniors as it improves grip stability, transferring power more efficiently and giving you more space to accelerate the barrel. A slight downside is that it has not been certified by ASA, which may restrict its use in organized leagues. It is though rated as 1.15 BPF meaning it can still be used in Little League. Ultimately, for the price this is the perfect bat for your little one who is getting into the game and looking at bigger things in the future. One complaint about Axe bats is that while they claim to know the exact side of the bat that will hit the ball, most Axe bats have lots of dents on the sides and even back of the bat (opposite the hitting side), so be aware that the one-sided hitting bat may still be a work in progress.
- Excellent quality at a decent price
- Strong alloy material
- Angled Cap
- Axe grip handle
- Not ASA certified
- Limited performance
- May get dented on all sides
Your young star has been playing for a while and you feel it is time to upgrade his or her gear to match their uncanny ability. If this is the case, then you can’t walk past the Mako Beast from Easton. Used in the 2016 Little League World Series, this bat is for the junior who requires top performing gear to make their mark in the bigger leagues. The 2 ¼” composite barrel is made from Easton’s TCT Thermo technology, producing one of the most powerful barrels and fastest swing weights on the market. It produces a balanced swing that according to users also creates a nice pop time after time. Energy transfer from the ball back into the swing is maximized using the specially designed ConneXion technology, similar to the DeMarini Insane, covered earlier in this review. Unfortunately, like the Axe Origin, it is not covered by ASA certification. However, it conforms to the relevant parameters to qualify its use in Little League and USSSA, among others. So if you want your child to have the best bat and you have the budget to match, then this one should definitely be on your list.
- Top quality durable bat
- TCT Thermo composite barrel
- Used in Little League World Series
- Not ASA certified
- Expensive for a youth bat
Miken have been making composite bats in the US for almost two decades. This bat has been created for the serious player looking for a huge barrel and maximum performance. It is made from the latest lightweight and durable carbon fiber material that is 100% aerospace grade. With an end that is 0.5 oz weight loaded, the bat is sure to deliver a frustrating headache to the pitcher on the receiving end. The handle is extremely comfortable, having been designed to flex greatly. This gives it a nice, solid trampoline effect while minimizing vibrations to the hand. This is a high-end bat for serious hitters. It’s really a brand new design to the two-piece ASA market, and it offers balanced weighting paired with a massive forgiving sweet spot. It’s ideal for players looking for an end-loaded feel for added power.
- 100% Aerospace grade carbon fiber
- 0.5oz end loaded
- Tera-core+ Technology
- Made in USA
We couldn’t ignore this excellent quality product next in line in the current Louisville selection. Being on the lower end of the fast pitch bats from Louisville, the X12 is still made entirely from composite materials, both barrel and handle. It delivers a well balanced weight, providing exceptional control for both elite players and youth players that are well advanced. This years’ model features the fade synthetic bat grip which delivers great flexibility in the swing, and with the two-piece composite construction, minimizes that unpleasant hand vibration found on cheaper models. It is also fully certified by the majority of associations to make sure it’s going to be allowed wherever you take it. If you’re a Louisville Slugger fan and want the best, then perhaps you should take a look at the LXT. But in our minds, the X12 has everything you need in a bat at a decent price, providing good value for money and top notch performance.
- Affordable Louisville Slugger quality
- Fully composite two piece
- Great for experienced and younger players
- Balanced weight excellent for control
- Small Sweetspot
This high quality, all-around bat is specially designed for youth players with an emphasis on the Fast Pitch game. It is a great all round bat that has the features of many expensive varieties at a good price. This is especially so for the young player who is focusing on developing their skills while still tuning their game. The 2 ¼” barrel is made from a DX1 alloy to give it high hitting power and a lightweight frame. Combined with a handle made from a fiber reinforced composite material, it gives the bat a nice sturdy and flexible hit, despite it being made from alloy. This makes the handle feel very comfortable too, with a nice feel in the hand and minimal vibrations coming from the ball. While it may not be a top of the range bat when it comes to details, it is a perfect mid-range bat that is also rated for practically every league. Being an excellent quality youth bat, we feel it is perfectly balanced in terms of price and performance. Essentially you don’t have to break the bank for a bat that may be used for one or two seasons as they grow into the next one.
- Lightweight hybrid grip
- Excellent quality fast pitch bat
- Recommended for young players
- All round capability at a decent price
- High Price
In the Triple Crown XL, Worth presents a light, durable and finely crafted bat that is a wonderful hallmark to its tradition. This beauty is made out of 100% composite fiber material and is end loaded, making it light while still providing a powerful swing. The Flex 50 handle is well balanced and ensures a flexible, comfortable grip that minimizes vibrations. With a barrel length of 13.5” and width of 2 ¼”, it is also multi-walled to deliver an effective trampoline effect. One of the things to consider is its certification, as currently it is not ASA certified which may put a dampener on those looking for a bit more value out of their softball gear. It is however, approved for use in the USSSA, NSA and ISA so is still acceptable across a wide range of fields. In summary, the Worth Triple Crown is a great, all round bat designed for performance and quality. Its construction will be ideal for a lot of players who can see quality through its workmanship.
- Elegantly crafted
- Light and durable
- Multi-wall barrel
- Made in USA
- Endorsed by top slow pitch players
- Not ASA certified
This state of the art bat manages to pack in a lot of R&D into a slick design. Easton have pulled out all the stops to make sure whoever has this baby in their hands will feel like they have the greatest bat in the world. Engineered for maximum performance, the 2017 Stealth features a fully composite barrel with additional compression over previous models for a satisfying pop. The evenly balanced weight extends down the barrel and connects with the handle using CXN Zero technology that reportedly produces zero vibration. When you get to the handle, the technology doesn’t stop. With a TCT composite material handle, Easton have tried hard to make sure that you have the comfort to match the performance. Critically acclaimed by many users, this is simply one of the best bats you can buy. However it does come at a cost and the hefty price tag might put off a lot of buyers looking for better value. The reality is that they’re probably right. Despite its impressive array of wonderful features, most people will find what they’re looking for in a cheaper bat. Still, if you can afford it, you will have one of the best softball bats on the field if you wield this lovely piece of engineering around your club.
- 100% TCT Thermo Composite material
- CXN Zero technology for zero vibration
- Evenly balanced
- Easton’s patented ConneXion
Conclusion & Recommendation
When purchasing your next softball bat, it’s definitely worthwhile to ensure you buy one suited to your game. Only you know if you will feel better with a bat that is well balanced or one with loading on the end. The material comes into play too. There is no doubt that composite bats are better quality, however you might simply like the feel and sound of the alloy construction. Then there are the juniors to consider. As a parent, you will want to look for a good balance between performance and value, knowing that your son or daughter will still be developing their game.
In our top ten, we have tried to highlight what a broad range of players will be looking for in their next piece of metal. For those with an unlimited budget and looking for top performance, then bats like the DeMarini CF9 Insane fast pitch, Miken Freak slow pitch, and the Easton Stealth Flex 10 fast pitch are industry leaders and geared for the professional player looking for maximum performance. For the juniors on this end of the scale, the Mako Beast from Easton is certainly one of the best performing bats for the serious youth player.
But if you want a good mid-range, quality bat at a decent price, there are plenty around to suit your needs. We found the Louisville Slugger X12 and the DeMarini Bustos for the kids certainly fall into that category, providing excellent value with all you need in performance, technology and comfort.
It was not difficult to select the Louisville Slugger Xeno as our bat of choice. The technology and performance it brings to the table is unmatched for the price. It is a high end bat that is accessible to everyone. It can span from the weekend hit to the pro leagues. The heritage behind it is also hard to resist, and with all the positive feedback, it certainly is our number one.
So if you can, take a hit with a few of these and see if they won’t improve your game. In the meantime, explore your game further and get ready for next season with a shiny new bat in your hands. Happy hitting!