Softball may seem like the slow and lazy cousin of baseball to many. But they don't know the truth now, do they?! For hardcore fans and players, softball is a very serious sport. So serious, in fact, that it is the fourth most popular sport played recreationally here in the US! There are hundreds of softball leagues across the US, many of which are hotly contested.
You need the best softball bats to perform well here. So without much ado, here are the top ten softball bats available online:
Top 5 Slow Pitch Softball Bats
- Miken DC-41 Supermax ASA
- Worth HD52 SBH52A ASA Balanced Composite
- Wilson DeMarini Steel
- Louisville Slugger Super Z ASA End Load
- Easton Salvo Composite Balanced ASA/USSA
Top 5 Fast Pitch Softball Bats
- DeMarini Female Vendetta
- Easton FP16S312 FS3
- Louisville Slugger LXT Hyper 17
- Wilson DeMarini 2016 Uprising
- Marucci Pure Fast Pitch
Softball Bats Buying Guide
Is there any difference between soft pitch and fast pitch bats?
Yes, there are minor differences. The length and barrel width are broadly the same, between 26-34 inches and 2 and ¼ inches respectively. Weight is one of the main factors of difference. Slow pitch bats tend to be heavier with a maximum weight often reaching 30oz, while fast pitch bats are lighter (26-28oz max). Also, fast pitch bats are optimized to reduce vibrations on contact with the ball. They also tend to be more expensive than slow pitch softball bats.
Can I use a slow pitch bat for a fast pitch game, (or vice versa)?
There should be no problem, especially in youth level. But for adults, the difference in pitching speeds can make a world of difference. Fast pitches at senior level can exceed 70mph, and a fast pitch bat is better designed to handle that kind of speeds. They are lighter, easier to swing and contain minor features that improve your chances of getting clean hits with minimal feedback. And most slow pitch bats are designed for slugging which works well for pitches that never go beyond 25mph in speed.
How to pick the ideal softball bat length?
The length of the bat is a very subjective issue. But generally, manufacturers tend to classify bat sizes according to body measurements. If you take a look at some size tables given by major manufacturers as broad guidelines, the taller and heavier you are, the better a longer bat will be for you. For shorter and smaller players, they recommend the shorter lengths.
For a really easy trick to identify an appropriate length and weight for your bat, check out this YouTube video.
What is the difference between one-piece and two-piece softball bats?
One-piece bats are made from a single material, that is a single block of wood, a single composite material, or aluminum alloy. They tend to be stiffer, and optimized for better energy transfer to the softball on contact. This results in better hits for strong power hitters. But these bats may not be optimal for contact hitters.
In two-piece bats, the handle and barrel are made from two separate pieces that have been bonded together. This results in increased flex at the head of the bat on contact between bat and ball. The flexed head creates a whipping effect, going through the hitting zone faster, creating a faster swing in the process. If you need more power in your shots, a two-piece bat can give you that extra assistance.
What are the different materials used to make softball bats?
Wood: Softball ball bats are usually made from maple, ash, bamboo or composite woods. Wood bats tend to be best for practice as they have the smallest sweet spots, which makes you work to get good contact. They usually have simple one-piece designs.
Composite: these include bats made from stuff like kevlar, fiberglass, carbon fiber, and graphite. The bats are made from durable fiber materials blended and woven together. They are the ones that have advanced features like multi-piece and multi-wall barrel designs. And they also absorb more vibrations, creating less sting in your hands. But they are also costly and require a break in time.
Aluminum: this category includes all metal/alloy bats. They are cheaper than composite bats. They have that very recognizable “ping” sound. Metal bats are stiff and very durable but prone to dents. Unlike composite bats, they don't require any break-in. And these bats are also highly resistant to temperature variations so that you can use them in cold climates as well.
Top 10 Softball Bats
1. Miken DC-41 Supermax ASA
The Miken DC-41 is an advanced softball bat optimized for slow pitch games. And as the name suggests, it has the ASA certification. This is a modern softball bat, made from 100% composite materials for extra durability and strength. And thanks to the modern materials, it is also incredibly lightweight.
But the main highlight of this bat is in its unique four piece design. The structure is made from four different pieces that have been bonded together. This results in extra endload weighting, which translates into more flex and a larger sweet spot. The Miken DC-41 is incredibly easy to hit, and when it strikes, the ball stays hit. It is one of the hottest bats around and can deliver “pops” for the entire team, not just the star hitters.
But of course, all that performance does come at a premium. The Miken is undoubtedly expensive. And while a multi-piece construction may have its benefits, it also has some drawbacks. With constant use, there is a chance of the bonds weakening and pieces flying off. Of course, it will be quite a long time before you get to see that, but the threat is always there. The end cap is especially vulnerable.
At a premium, this bat does deliver extra performance. But it is not perfect and has some significant durability and reliability issues.
2. Worth HD52 SBH52A ASA Balanced Composite
This is an ASA approved bat from the Worth stable. The HD52 has been tested and tuned for maximum performance, and it shows through in practice as well. The advanced technology in this bat is limited to the multi-wall design, and that is a good thing indeed. The one-piece design ensures that this bat remains incredibly sturdy and well balanced.
The triple wall design improves the trampoline effect on contact with the ball. It ensures seamless energy transfer, increasing ball velocities. You can get booming home runs with the right contact on the HD52, and that too on a consistent basis. It delivers with a tremendous audible pop, right out of the wrapper.
There are no major flaws in this Worth HD52 bat, save for the fact that it has only the ASA certification. But it is a real gem and well worth the asking price. It can feel a bit too light for some, but that is a matter of personal preference.
All things taken into consideration, this is one of the best slow pitch softball bats around.
3. Wilson DeMarini Steel
As the name suggests, this is the first metallic bat in our list of the best slow pitch softball bats. The durability and performance of this bat have been optimized using a unique heat treatment process. The ZN alloy is designed to flex less at the handle, which helps improve the performance of the barrel during the swing.
The DeMarini is also one of the most widely approved bats, with the ASA, USSA, NSA, ISA having given this bat the thumbs up. The structural design of the bat keeps things simple and straightforward, with a one-piece single wall design. That is what makes this perfect for competitions which outlaw multiwall designs.
You can get booming shots with this bat. The pop is a real pleasure to experience as well, though not on the same level as the composites. And this bat does have some durability issues. You will get dents sooner rather than later.
The DeMarini is very easy to swing, with a simple design that doesn't fall foul of most league regulations. It lacks the pop of a composite, and is prone to dents. But it is still an excellent softball bat for slow pitch games.
4. Louisville Slugger Super Z ASA End Load
If you want a composite bat that is approved by almost all major associations, the Louisville Slugger Super Z is one of the best options around. This 100% composite bat has a two-piece construction. So you get extra flex and swing speed with the Super Z. It has an extra-stiff rating and is well suited for power hitters.
The larger composite barrel has a very generous sweet spot, so even weaker hitters can expect excellent contact. And unlike many other composites around, this one doesn't need to be broken in. It features an inner disc design that works straight out of the wrapper. You can start smashing them out of the field right from the get-go!
The Super Z is part of the well known Z-2000 range of softball bats from Louisville Slugger. And this series does have a few niggles. The pop is not the best, and you can feel that from the sound as the ball makes contact. That is the only major flaw in what is otherwise a very likable bat.
In conclusion, the Louisville Slugger Super Z is a great composite bat for league play, as it has approval from ASA, USSA, NSA, and ISF. It has decent if not best in class performance as well.
5. Easton Salvo Composite Balanced ASA/USSA
The Salvo has a tried and tested design. You will find no fancy, newfangled multi-piece design here. It is made from one solid block of composite material, and you get excellent balance and stiffness here. The control is out of this world, and the thin gauze grip only increases your confidence.
The barrel is made from 100% advanced composite fibers, with a structure that is optimized for a more substantial sweet spot. Accurate shots are easy to collect, and you can expect the ball to fly off the park on a regular basis. It is on the heavier side and works well in slow pitch games. Add to that approval from ASA, USSA, and other major associations, and you have a very reliable bat for league games.
On the downside, you will not get the pop that we have all become accustomed to from the modern multi-piece flexing bats. And you will find that the optimum performance has to be eked out of this bat with a good break in.
The Salvo is a solid bat for league play. But it does not perform hot right out of the wrapper, and you will need to spend the extra time to get it to deliver. But in other departments, it is one of the best slow pitch softball bats around.
6. DeMarini Female Vendetta
The DeMarini Female Vendetta is a package with a slew of advanced features. The handle has an optimized D-Fusion Lite design that reduces jarring vibrations on mishits. This gives you the courage to swing freely without fear of feedback. The barrel also features tweaks that increase the sweet spot.
The Female Vendetta is approved by almost all associations, so if you are looking for a league approved bat, this is one of the best fastpitch softball bats around. The half and half hybrid construction give it just the right amount of heft and weight, which is crucial for control during those fast swings. And this is a great bat right out of the wrapper as well.
The bat is not without its flaws. Durability and reliability do remain a serious concern. There have been instances when this bat stopped popping halfway into the season. It also tends to degrade rather fast with regular use.
The DeMarini is a well-designed bat, but the reliability issues need to be addressed. Until then, this remains a league approved bat worth a look if you don't want your new bat to last for more than a year.
7. Easton FP16S312 FS3
The FS3 is another fast pitch bat that aims to reduce the specter of vibes creeping into your wrists after mishits. This confidence-inspiring bat from Easton has a composite construction. The advanced barrel design promises a larger sweet spot and improved compression. So you can expect more accurate shots, with faster ball velocities on contact.
The FS3 also has an ultra-light construction, which improves the ability to swing it fast. The bat has an advanced two-piece construction with extra flex on offer. And with a performance-oriented HYPERSKIN grip, this bat is very easy to swing indeed. The approval of ASA, USSA, ISA, ISF, and NSA ensures that this bat is eligible for almost all leagues.
The multi-piece design is always known for some flaws, and this Easton is no exception. You will hear rattling after a few months in all probability. That can be very annoying for some people.
For fast pitch games, this Easton FS3 promises more rapid swings and booming hits. The pop is very much there, as is a marked absence of vibes. But reliability issues still plague this bat. If you can live with that, it is an able performer, approved for all leagues.
8. Louisville Slugger LXT Hyper 17
If you want the best youth softball bat, the LXt Hyper 17 is a promising option. Designed for use at the top level, this composite bat has oodles of advanced features from the grip to the end cap. The 1-disc barrel system is optimized to give you a larger sweet spot.
This bat will perform well right out of the wrapper. The synthetic grip has a faded design for added comfort and confidence. With a dynamic design, the handle is optimized to reduce vibrations of mishits. This helps inspire a lot of confidence during the swing. The pop and feel are also heavenly on this bat.
The Slugger LXT is not cheap when you factor in all that advanced features. It will hit well and true, but the reliability is always an issue for these sophisticated multi-piece designs.
But if you want peak performance in competition play, the LXT Hyper 17 does deliver on its promises. This is probably the best youth softball bat for league and tournament play around.
9. Wilson DeMarini 2016 Uprising
The DeMarini Uprising is very lightweight, making it one of the best fastpitch softball bats around for faster swings. The grip has a hybrid design, but that should not be confused with the actual construction of the bat, which is all metal. The bat is optimized to reduce vibrations on mishits.
For little league play, this is a fantastic bat as it has NSA approval. It has a very affordable and straightforward design. That means no fancy multi-piece multi-wall features. Made from a single piece of metal, it hits well and true. The ping is excellent, and this bat will do the job right out of the wrapper.
The Wilson DeMarini has no major flaws. It will probably get a ding or two in a few months, but that is acceptable at this price point. Besides, the brand also offers a one-year free warranty if the damage makes the bat unplayable.
So the DeMarini Uprising is a very dependable and affordable bat for younger players at fast pitch softball games. It has the NSA approval according to the manufacturer.
10. Marucci Pure Fastpitch
The Marucci here is a pure composite bat, approved for league play by the ASA, USSA, and ISA. The two-piece design helps players with slower swings get extra speed from the flex. The multi-wall barrel makes this one of the best fastpitch softball bats in the market. The sweet spot is generous, and the extra flex from multi-wall design ensures that you get faster velocities on your hits.
The confidence inspiring design includes a vibration-free handle with shock dissipation technology. The grip has also been given the special treatment, with extra comfort and control on offer.
There is not much to dislike about the Marucci Pure Fastpitch except for the usual durability concerns from the two-piece construction. This is a solid bat for league play in fast pitch games.
When it comes to picking the best softball bats, it is all about picking horses for courses. You need improved vibration dampening for fast pitch bats, while slow pitch bats need optimal weighting and balance for better hits. Out of the ten, the Worth HD52 is the best slow pitch softball bat regarding overall dependability and performance. And for dealing with faster pitches, the Louisville Slugger LXT Hyper offers elite-level performance. Always check your league rules and regulations before placing an order for a new softball bat.