Welcome to our softball bats section. As you are probably well aware, there are probably hundreds of different models of different softball bats all promising similar things: more distance, more pop, better swing, etc. Finding a softball bat is really an individual decision and is almost akin to finding the right car to drive. In reality when it comes to bats there is no “one size fits all”. Some players prefer a nice heavy one to match their powerful stroke. While other player prefer a lighter version so they can make as much contact as possible. Then there are others who are a bit in middle. But if it were only that easy…
Keeping with the overall theme of this website, we aim to break them down as specifically as we possibly can. You might be looking for the right one based on the league you play in, or you might be looking for a certain structure or material to use.
So what is the best softball bat right now? Here is the latest version of our comparison chart (updated for 2016) which should help at least get you started in the right direction. Still unsure what that direction is? Then read on further below where we explain some of the main things to look for.
- 1 Quick reviews of the Top Choices
- 2 What factors went into our bat reviews?
- 3 Conclusion
Quick reviews of the Top Choices
As mentioned earlier, the most efficient way of figuring out which is right for you is to head on over to our comparison chart where we list many different types. However if you are interested in some quick overviews of the top overall choices this year, then please check out the sections that follow. Although you may already know what type of game you play, you then have to look into other important considerations like the brand, if it is approved for your league, the extra features it has for comfort & durability, if it is balanced or end loaded, etc. We hope that the articles we link to on this page will help you in your journey.
Trending choice: Louisville Xeno
The Xeno Line of Louisville Slugger’s softball series, is by far its most popular, and the new XENO PLUS looks ready to be its flagship. We feel this is the top overall choice when is comes to 2016 bats (a brand new 2017 model was actually just released and my guess is both versions will still excel).
With its 100% composite construct, 2-piece design, and perfectly balanced swing weight, you are guaranteed to reach the speeds you’ve wanted and the control that will have scouts taking notice. The patented iST Technology, their top notch two-piece design, severely lowers vibration and gives you the flex you need without compromising the solid make of the bat and a slightly stiffer feel for more efficient energy transfer on contact and a HUGE sweetspot.
The newest addition, the Performance Plus Composite gives the Xeno Plus barrel the best pop, durability and performance as possible by giving you zero wall friction. The Xeno Plus also has a 2 1/4″ barrel diameter and a 7/8″ standard handle, while using the S1iD Inner Disc Barrel Technology to give you a lighter-feel with insane pop while staying within legal standards and has been approved by all major softball organizations (ASA, USSSA, NSA, ISA and ISF). Add in the 12 month manufacturer’s warranty and you have not only this year’s best bat but also the best overall softball bat package. Read our full review here.
Easton Mako CXN Zero – another great choice
The Mako CXN Zero is one of Easton’s best balanced softball bats. With its top notch 2-piece manufacturing with its patented CXN Zero technology, it should completely eliminate the vibration and sting before they reach your hands and transfers that powerful energy back into the barrel to give you that hitting distance you have been craving. As perfectly balanced as they can possibly craft, the Easton Mako name is synonymous with quality, power and control. While Easton uses a proprietary composite (100% Thermo Composite Technology) to give their bats there insane strength and performance, they added the Ultra-thin 29/32” composite handle with their Hyperskin Grip. Talk about over kill!
But that wasn’t enough; Easton really went all out this time, by continuing to use the TCT Thermo composite, they let their customers know that they really do listen and care what they have to say. When swinging the bat, this will allow more of the barrel to get to the ultimate flex position and send your hits into orbit. While all of this technology seems a little too good to be legal, guess what? all of the major associations have approved it for play. Even the graphics on this bat let your competitors know you are as serious about your equipment as you are about playing. Add in Easton’s best of the best 1 year warranty, and from the handle to the 2 1/4″ barrel, you have yourself a batting system that will level your competition!
Demarini CF9 – One of the best reviewed each year
If fastpitch softball is your game then we feel that the Demarini CF9 will make you a better player. Demarini is one of the top brands in the business and they are constantly improving an already great product. For 2016 it was the CF8, and even further in the past were the great CF7 to CF5 models. Now the newest 2017 CF9 will more than likely go down as a great addition to this fine line of bats. So what sets it apart?
- First is how it was made. Using Demarini’s own brand new Paraflex composite material through the barrel, the CF9 has one of the largest, most game ready sweet spots in the business. This new material promises to be 22% stronger than the Paradox Plus+ barrel used in last years version meaning it should have more durability. This will allow you to take your hits deeper with ease.
- Second is the swing. The CF9 provides a great lightweight swing and in fact features a tremendously low moment of inertia. What is moment of inertia? This article provides many more details than we could, however it typically deals with how the bats weight is distributed and therefore the lower number the better.
- Next is the D-Fusion 2.0 handle that has been added to the CF9. This handle supposedly does an excellent job at reducing vibrations or ball sting, especially on off-center hits. The CF9 is available in many different drop formats including -9, -10, and -11.
Although more expensive than the average softball bat, for players really looking to take their game to the next level, the CF9 should make a great choice.
Louisville Z4 (new for 2016)
For slowpitch players on the other hand, the Louisville Z4 series might make a perfect choice. It follows the popular Z-2000 and Z-3000 series from prior years that were considered some of the top bats in their respective years. What sets the Z-4 apart from other slowpitch bats is its unique combination of swing weight, power, and balanced swing that it provides. Priced at around $300, your slowpitch game should improve immensely when you take a few cracks with this one. Some of its great features include:
- The Z4 is designed using Louisville’s patented TRU-3 construction. What exactly is a three-piece design? This is explained a bit more here, but it essentially provides a more robust connection between the barrel and handle to give the bat more durability, make for a better swing while at the same time reducing ball sting.
- A unique aspect of the Z4 is the “Grit Blast Finish” that has been applied to the barrel. The extra finish provides your hits with a little more back spin which in turn allows for more distance on your hits.
- For even more durability, the Z4 is built with Louisville’s own Pure 360 composite. This composite material is the most popular used by Louisville and provides a barrel that is strong and lighter than others in the market.
The Louisville Slugger Z4 has different versions that are approved for various leagues so make sure to give a few swings for the one that has been approved for where you play.
Worth Legit 220
The last bat that we feature on our 2016 softball bats page is the Worth Legit 220. Possibly the hottest bat available this year, the Worth Legit 220 is reaching legendary status without even trying. While it is a two piece and has the vibration control that most quality composites do, it has the feel and strength of a one piece and reacts perfectly.
With the one ounce endload featuring the 220 Advantage, the follow through is a perfect balance between overall power and controlled energy transfer, insuring hits reach the scoreboard like they were shot by a cannon. The True1 Tech performance is the first one piece 2 1/4″ barrel worthy of the Worth name. The barrel is not only a seamless 360 to increase durability and performance, but a 100% Carbon Fiber Barrel, giving a ultra-light weight, incredibly durable, over preforming piece of equipment.
The Legit 220’s 2 piece design Flex 50 handle technology is one of the best vibration dampening handles on the market. It’s ability to transfer mis-hit energy into a cannon like pop, is what gives this bat an edge over all other 2016 softball bat offerings. The Legit 220 is of course approved for the USSSA, ISA and NSA, making it a high demand bat, and insuring stocks are being sold as quickly as they are manufactured. But why wouldn’t they be, as always Worth stands behind their products with their no nonsense one year manufacturer’s warranty.
What factors went into our bat reviews?
As we mentioned earlier, no two bats are the exact same. As former softball players will attest, it can be impossible to find a perfect one. That is why this website was created. There are so many different variables to consider and no two people share the exact same tastes. So finding the right choices for a group of people is not an easy task by any stretch. However there are certain things we considered when we reviewed the feature lists of all the different models available. Some of the main decision points included:
- Your game: The type of game you play is arguably the most important aspect to be considered. We believe that our pages dedicated to the best fastpitch softball bats and best slowpitch softball bats will provide you with enough insight depending on which version of the sport you play.
- Material: how it is built goes a long way when determining its longevity. Composite material is ideal, but also expensive. Some other regular aluminum models have proven to be quite strong and high performing providing you with more bang for your buck.
- Performance: This is obviously one of the most important factors that we look at in our softball bat reviews. If you are going to buy a new one, it should perform better than your older one. We look into where the power of the bat is generated from and how much additional distance can be achieved through the barrel and handle strength.
- Organizational Approval: some of the bats that we overview were only approved by the ASA association, while others could only be used by USSSA leagues. You can see our best ASA softball bats choices, or our USSSA sofftball bat list when it comes available.
- Cost: Let’s face it…many of us are on a budget. Although the $300 softball bats are fantastic, not all of us need one. There is no doubt that bats such as the Easton Mako are top performers, but some of us have to be a little more careful with our wallets.
Hitting for Power or for Contact?
So what is the ideal bat? It’s a question that has plagued many great players. I can’t really stress enough how it is such an individual decision to make. That being said, there are several items that you should consider if you are the power hitter for your team that is in charge of getting everyone to score or if you are the table setter and try to get on base as much as possible.
- Swing type – Are you a player that prefers to launch a homerun over the fence with each and every swing or do you prefer a more consistent sound approach to your swing? One thing you’ll notice with quite a few bats is that they are normally labelled as end loaded or balanced. As you can probably guess, an end loaded bat gives a slight edge to the power hitter as it contains a little extra weight in the bottom. On the opposite end, players who prefer a quicker and more consistent swing should stick with the balanced type. Most hitters termed “contact hitters” prefer a balanced model.
– Although not the most scientific word, stiffness refers to how much “give” you’ll feel as a hitter on contact. For the most part when looking at bats, they will advertise it either as a one-piece or a two-piece model. Two piece constructions are less rigid and stiff then their one piece counterparts as they are built using two sections: handle and barrel. A one-piece on the other hand is built off of a single piece of metal and is used more often by stronger and more powerful hitters. What happens in one piece bats is that very little energy is lost upon contact and therefore more power ends up being generated. On the other hand, two piece models provides more of a whip in your swing and results in quicker swing speeds which is what contact hitters desire.
This is covered in much more depth in our buyer’s guide if you are interested in learning more.
Other Features to consider
So outside of the type of bat, league approval and such, what are some other things you should look out for? Here are some other items that you may not always think of as they fall a little bit outside of the main items to look for. However, I still think they should be considered:
- Handle – If you’ve ever felt the dreaded ball sting then you’ll realize how important the handle is. I have played with some of the ugliest and oldest bats and boy did it ever hurt when I mishit. Thankfully, nowadays many models have specialized handles that aim at reducing this bat sting and regular vibrations. But just to be safe, for your pain tolerance, make sure the bat you choose has some sort of vibration reduction!
- Single vs Multi-wall – Although many players don’t notice a huge difference it is believed that multi or double wall bats are more durable as they are slightly thicker. They also claim to provide more of the trampoline effect mentioned in the previous section. However there are some leagues that only allow for single wall bats to be used so check our your league regulations first and make sure not to choose an illegal bat.
- Break in time – Like gloves, bats can also experience a little bit of lag before being fully broken in. Composite bats in particular require a little more of a break-in period then aluminum ones. So if you aren’t interested in taking the time to break-in your bat, you may want to look for one that is advertised as “hot out of the wrapper” which is a fancy way of saying it is good to go right after purchasing.
Well there you have it. We hope that we have provided you with as much information as possible so that you can pick up the right softball bat for your next game. Like anything else, it can be a tricky process but we hope that this article and other supporting articles on our site have helped you at least narrow down your choice instead of having no information whatsoever. Best of luck!
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