Selecting one of the best softball bats to suit your playing style, league, experience, and strength is no easy task. With so many bats on offer from countless manufacturers – how do you know what bat will increase your average and improve your game?
Every time you step to the plate, your average lies in the 12 or 13-inches of composite or alloy you are holding in your hands. We decided to make your quest to find the perfect bat easier. This guide to the best softball bats for both slowpitch and fastpitch leagues will give you the top choices available right now.
The Difference Between Fastpitch and Softpitch Bats
When its time to buy your new bat, you’ll need to make the distinction between fastpitch and slowpitch types. Both types of bats have differences that affect performance and feel when stepping up to the plate.
Fastpitch bats are designed for a faster playing environment, focusing on swing speed and power. As a result of these properties, fast-pitch bats are lightweight and well-balanced.
Slowpitch bats are heavier, longer, and wider – providing the batter with more significant sweet spots on the barrel for more power from slower swings.
Here are the essential differences between slowpitch and fastpitch bats.
Fastpitch softball bats feature a streamlined, narrow barrel, with less variance between the neck and barrel. Slowpitch bats feature a larger barrel that makes the bat heavier to swing, but the larger surface area extends the sweet spot, allowing you to hit distance with slow swings.
Fastpitch bats are far lighter than slowpitch bats. Fastpitch players focus on swing speed and muscular power in their swing. The lighter construct of the bat allows for faster, accurate swings. Slowpitch bats are heavier, but when the batter lands a good hit, even at a low swing speed, they can expect to get decent distance due to the extended sweet spot on the barrel.
The low and mid-range bats available in both categories cost around the same price. However, when we move into the high-end bats, we find that fastpitch bats are more expensive, due to the advanced technology used in the design, materials, and manufacturing of the bat.
There is very little difference between fastpitch and slowpitch bats. However, some manufacturers like to make extended slowpitch bats to increase the surface area of the barrel, extending the sweet spot of the bat.
Composite Bats vs. Alloy Bats
Looking through the buying catalog of any softball bat retailer can leave your head spinning. With so many choices on offer – how do you know which bat is right for you? Softball bats come in three different designs, composite, alloy, and hybrid – (a blend of composite and alloy materials.)
Here is a brief breakdown of the bat types and what you can expect from the performance a feel of each material type.
These bats feature construction with materials similar to carbon fiber. As a result, these bats are incredibly lightweight and very durable. These features sound like the ideal blend of performance factors for any ballplayer. However, composite materials are tremendously expensive, and you can expect to pay more than an alloy bat.
Pros of Composite Bats
- More pop and a larger sweet spot for big hits.
- Less handle vibration, which is vital for miss-hits that leave your hands stinging.
Cons of Composite Bats
- More expensive than alloy bats, due to expensive materials and a complicated manufacturing process.
- Using a composite bat in colder weather may reduce its performance.
- Composite bats require a break-in period to achieve the characteristic “pop” in the bat.
Alloy bats feature construction with aluminum or other metals. They have a legacy in softball as the go-to bat for players of any age or experience level.
Pros of Alloy Bats
- Alloy is less expensive than when compared to composite bats.
- It does not require any break-in period.
- The material typically lasts longer than composite and is not affected by temperature.
Cons of Alloy Bats
- The bats have less pop, as well as a smaller sweet spot than composite bats.
- More vibration in the handle after miss-hits or big hits.
Buyer Tips For Selecting a Softball Bat
When it comes time to select a fast-pitch or slow-pitch softball bat, weight, and length are the critical factors that you need to consider before your purchase. Determining your ideal bat to suit your style of play, strength, swing mechanics, and preference to handle size and grip are all vital factors to take into account with your purchase.
Each bat manufacturer provides a sizing chart that helps you with choosing the right length and weight relative to your weight, height, age, and experience level. It’s highly likely we’ll feature one or more of these bats on our best baseball bats list for 2020.
Best Softball Bats: Top Fastpitch Bats
If fast-pitch is your game, then you need a bat designed for speed and power. Here are our choices for the best fastpitch softball bats for 2020.
1. Louisville Slugger 2019 LXT X19
With decades of tradition behind the Louisville Slugger brand, it’s no surprise that the company continues to release quality fastpitch products.
The Louisville Slugger LXT X19 Fastpitch bat features VCX Technology, allowing for independent movement between the handle and barrel. This fastpitch setup will enable you to control the vibrational feedback through the bat into the handle, resulting in balanced swing weight.
The lightweight materials featured in the construction of this bat provides excellent swing speed control, and the Slugger Pro Comfort grip ensures that your grip never slips. The patented PBF Barrel Technology gives the batter unique pop with a low-profile design and increased barrel length featuring an extended sweet spot for more power shots.
Designed with younger softball players in mind, the 2019 LXT X19 -12 is the perfect step-up for younger players looking to reach the next level of competition and training.
2. Easton 2020 Ghost
Rated by most as one of the best softball bats on the market right now, the Easton 2020 Ghost Double Barrel fastpitch bat is suitable for play in all leagues. The patent-pending double-barrel design found in the Easton Ghost is a masterpiece of softball engineering, providing the batter with the best pop, feel, and sound.
The innovative double-barrel design in the 2020 Ghost suits every level of hitter from beginner to amateur to professional.
The 2-Piece Connexion+™ technology featuring Nitrocell™ foam is ideal for flexibility and durability. This technology provides low barrel-feedback and excellent feedback through the handle during swings, while creating a lighter and more responsive feeling in the hands.
The 1.2mm HYPERSKIN™ grip closes the distance between your palms and the surface of the handle, increasing contact and feedback through the bat when swinging.
3. DeMarini 2019 CF Zen
Step to the plate this season with the 2019 CF Zen from DeMarini. This model is the lightest bat in the DeMarini range, featuring a highly responsive and strong Paraflex+ composite barrel for additional power in every swing.
The DeMarini 2019 CF Zen is the ideal amateur bat for kids looking to improve their batting skill. The lightweight nature of the bat allows for faster swings, with excellent balance. The 3-Fusion end cap optimizes the sweet spot in the barrel while producing more pop and a fantastic sound on contact.
The slimline handle features the “RCK” knob, with an anatomical design that dampens vibrations through the bat, allowing for a better feel on contact with the ball, as well as the most effortless power shots.
Best Softball Bats: Top Slowpitch Bats
If slowpitch softball is your game, then you need a bat that suits your style. Here are our top choices for the best slowpitch softball bats in 2020.
1. Easton Hammer ASA/USSSA
The Easton Hammer is definitely one of the best softball bats available. The evenly balanced barrel made from durable aluminum alloy feels light in the hands, and the handle design provides excellent grip, minimizing feedback through the handle during power shots.
Softpitch doesn’t require the same flexibility in the bat as fastpitch bats. So, it’s no surprise that the 1-piece design on offer from Easton in the Hammer is nothing short of responsive. We think that this bat is the ideal weapon for any kid stepping up to the slowpitch plate.
The lightweight nature of the bat allows for superior control through the swing while optimizing swing speed. Every swing unleashes maximum ping, with a stiffer feel than you would expect in a softpitch bat. With a 12-inch barrel length, this bat is suitable for use in any league.
2. Dudley 2019 Lightning Legend LiFT™
Seniors like to play slowpitch too! Fortunately, some of the best bat manufacturers realize that seniors need specialized sports gear as well. The 2019 Dudley Lightning Legend is the top-of-the-line slowpitch softball bat designed for seniors. As premier manufacturers of Dudley softballs, we think that the companies offering of bats is as good as its softballs.
The one-piece design of this slowpitch bat features construction with carbon-composite materials that last for season after season, with no reduction in performance. The bat requires a brief break-in period, but after the break-in is complete, every swing with the Lightning Lift provides excellent swing speed and power for your shots.
The Grip-Spin technology found on the Dudley grips the ball on contact with the barrel, resulting in greater backspin that increases ball flight.
The end-loaded swing weight on the 13-inch barrel, along with the Lite Frame Technology, (LIFT,) gives any slowpitch player optimal bat speed on contact with the ball.
3. Miken Velocit-e Ultra II
Seniors involved with slowpitch leagues that have no national affiliation will love the Miken Velocit-E Ultra II. This bat is, by far, the best slowpitch bat for seniors. Unfortunately, this bat does not have approval use in USSSA or ASA leagues – but if you play in a recreational league, then nothing is stopping you from loading up with the Miken Velocit-e Ultra II.
This 1-piece composite bat gets its supreme performance from the use of composite materials. The Miken E-Flex Ultra Technology provides inward flex in the barrel, providing a spring effect that increases the flight time of your power shots. Holding this bat in your hands gives you a sense of power between your palms, and making contact with the ball provides a clean hitting experience, with minimal feedback through the handle.
The bat also features Carbon-X Shell Technology for additional durability, season after season. The 13.5-inch barrel length, along with the ultra-thin 13/16″ handle provides excellent control through the swing. The hitting surface of the Miken Velocit-e Ultra II is enormous, and you’ll find that your average increases – right off the bat.
Best Softball Bats: Final Thoughts
If you’re a softball player, then you need one of the best softball bats that suits your style of play, league requirements, and skill level. After spending plenty of hours in the batting cage with all of the bats in this review, we have come down to our final recommendations.
If you’re a fastpitch player looking to increase your hitting distance and up your batting average, then we feel that you won’t find a better bat than the Easton 2020 Ghost. This bat is everything a player needs and expects from a bat. Lightweight, sturdy, and it feels fantastic between the palms when practicing or in competition.
Our choice for the best slowpitch bat was not as easy. We love the Miken Velocit-e Ultra II, with its longer barrel and wider hitting surface. We found we couldn’t miss with this bat, and our distance increased by at least 20-percent on every swing. However, it’s not approved for use in some leagues, so- if you play in the ASA or USSSA, then we recommend you look at investing into the Dudley 2019 Lightning Legend LiFT.
Whatever your league or your style, one of the bats in this review will help to up your game by increasing your average and distance in every shot.