For those that are new to the world of Slowpitch Softball, choosing a bat may be pretty overwhelming. The length and weight ratios are different than in Baseball and Fastpitch Softball, not to mention which bats are legal in different leagues and tournaments vary. So, before making such a crucial purchase, it’s important to know the ins-and-outs for what your needs are as a player, as well as the leagues and/or tournaments you will be playing in. Hopefully, this guide can provide a little insight and make the buying process for slow pitch softball bats less complicated and confusing.
ASSOCIATIONS AND CERTIFICATIONS
The first thing to consider in your search for a Slowpitch bat is not necessarily the materials and how you hit as a player, but where you will be using the bat. There are many different types of leagues and tournaments across the country that will call for specific certifications to consider a bat legal or illegal. It is important to know ahead of time which leagues or tournaments you will be playing in prior to purchasing your bat, because (just like in Fastpitch and Baseball) some bats may be legal to use in one league, but illegal in another. Usually for tournament play, the association is named pretty clearly. However, in some weekly, league nights it may not always be so clear-cut. In this instance, the best thing to do is contact either your team manager or the league coordinator to clarify which bats are considered legal or illegal.
Some of the more popular certifications to look for are: ASA and USSSA. As an example, you can look for the following, most recent stamps available from each organization before purchasing, to ensure your bat is up-to-date with the latest standards:
Now that you’ve narrowed down which association to search for, we can start getting into the nitty-gritty of what is fitting for you as a player. One of the better places to begin would be the weight of the bat itself. If the bat is too light, you won’t get as much pop as you could with a heavier bat; too heavy and you won’t be able to get it around in time and probably be pretty weak at contact. The best thing to do is swing a couple different weights to see what feels most comfortable for you.
- For women, usually a 26 or 27oz will do. If those are even too heavy, DeMarini has released the Mercy, which weighs in as low as 25oz and is aimed toward the female player.
- For guys, 27 or 28oz is pretty common, although you will see some more advanced players using 30oz bats.
Each player is different, so just because a teammate uses a 27oz, doesn’t mean it’s right for you – keep an open mind.
After determining which weight is appropriate, you may want to determine the distribution of the weight – balanced or end-loaded. A balanced bat is just as it sounds, the weight is evenly balanced throughout the bat. This will keep the swing-weight of the bat lighter and easier to get around the zone. Usually, those that prefer to hit for contact will lean towards a balanced bat, although that is not necessarily set in stone. The other side would be end-loaded, where a portion of the weight is distributed toward the endcap of the bat. This load can vary depending on the bat – some bats will carry from .5oz up to around 1 or 2oz. The more weight that is loaded at the end of the bat, the heavier the bat will feel when swinging. Usually, stronger, power hitters will lean toward an end-loaded bat for the extra pop it provides. Just as you did with the weight of the bat, swing a balanced and end-loaded bat to see which feels best for you.
Now that we know what weight and distribution we are looking for, we should consider the material of the bat – what is the bat made of?
The most common material used in most tournaments and leagues is Composite. Composite bats are made of a combination of different graphite and carbon fibers which create what is called a “trampoline effect” when the ball hits the bat. Composite bats are generally more technologically advanced and carry more “pop” than their alloy counterparts. However, some leagues have outlawed composite materials in the barrel and there is a “shelf-life” for these bats – which are both things to consider before buying. Eventually, a composite bat will breakdown and lose its effectiveness at the plate. Depending on how often you play and how many swings you take will determine how soon it will be before the bat “dies”.
A complete Alloy bat will be made of advanced alloy materials. Typically, these bats are favored by players that prefer the “old school” feel and sound of a bat. An alloy bat will feel very stiff at contact and does not necessarily have a shelf-life as its composite counterparts do. Sure, after an extended period of time, the bat may begin to dent, but they typically last longer than composite bats. Another benefit, there is no “break-in” period for an alloy bat – alloy bats are ready to go as soon as they are out of the wrapper. Whereas a composite bat will require a break-in period, where you want to get about 100 or so swings onto the barrel to loosen up the composite materials and make them more responsive. However, the pop off of a composite bat will be more responsive than an alloy.
A variation of composite, is Composite/Alloy – where the barrel is made of either composite or alloy and the handle is made separately of either composite or alloy. A composite barrel with an alloy handle will provide the advanced pop of a composite barrel, but give a stiffer feeling at contact to transfer as much energy as possible. An alloy barrel with a composite handle will provide slightly better pop than a full alloy bat since the composite material in the handle will absorb some of the vibration created by the barrel – allowing for more solid contact.
The final material to consider would be Wooden softball bats. This is the least responsive material of the ones available and usually only an option for those that play in a wood bat league. If your league permits alloy or composite materials, it is best to go with one of those more responsive materials, as you will get more pop than you would using a wood bat. However, if you are playing in a wood bat league, then you may want to consider the type of wood material being used. Some of the more popular materials include Maple and Bamboo – both of which are very strong, durable and provide some extra pop.
If permitted, your best bet for performance would be to use a bat that has a composite barrel. If you are just starting up and looking to keep costs low, alloy barrel bats can be effective and are generally less expensive.
Last, but certainly not least, the construction of the bat should be considered – do you need a 1-piece or 2-piece bat? Single piece bats will have a stiffer, more traditional feel at contact – they also tend to be a little more forgiving when contact is made toward the handle. A 2-piece design will have some flex where the barrel and handle attach, giving the bat a little extra whip when coming through the zone. Those that have a slower swing will not get as much out of this whip, but for those that have a quicker, more efficient swing, the whipping action will provide a little extra pop at contact.
So there you have it – most of what to consider before buying a slowpitch softball bat. Think you’re ready to step up to the plate and purchase a bat? Check out our full selection of Slowpitch Softball Bats at Homerunmonkey.com!
Still unsure what is right for you? Have questions about a specific bat or bats? Please, contact our customer service department and one of our representatives will be happy to answer questions you may have!
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