As with all the best things in life, choosing the best slow pitch softball bats is something that should involve a painstaking amount of research.
Luckily, we’ve taken the pain away so you won’t have to slog through all the marketing jargon to find the perfect bat for you.
Here is a list of the best rated slow pitch softball bats on the market, along with their key features to help you make the right choice.
How to Pick the Best Slow Pitch Softball Bat – A Buyer’s Guide
If you are new to the world of softball, picking out the best slow pitch softball bat can be a daunting task given the numerous brands and models out on the market today.
For starters, the length to weight ratio differs from those used in baseball bats & fastpitch softball bats. Second, the bats allowed in slow pitch baseball vary depending on the league or tournament.
Third, bat construction differs, as does personal preference – Different hitters have different wants. For instance, most power hitters prefer end-loaded bats, while contact hitters go for balanced softball bats.
As you see, things can get quite complicated.
Before we begin, here are a few things you need to keep top-of-mind as you do your research.
- Most slow pitch bats are 34” in length
- All slow pitch softball bats have a barrel diameter of 2 1/4 inches.
- Most slowpitch softball bats weigh between 26 & 30 oz. A select few are lighter/heavier, weighing in at 25 oz or 29, e.g. the Demarini Mercy which weighs 25 oz. Power hitters looking to swing for the fences can pick bats that weigh 28 oz and 30 oz, while contact hitters typically use bats that weigh between 25 to 27 oz range.
- There are several slowpitch softball leagues, such as ASA, ISA, ISF, NSA, and USSSA.
Hopefully, this buyer’s guide will provide the insight needed to help you buy the best slow pitch bat according to your needs and budget.
Associations and Certifications
One of the very first things you should consider, above everything else, is where you intend to use the bat.
There are plenty of different leagues and tournaments across the country that will call for specific certifications to consider a bat legal or illegal. With this in mind, you need to ensure that your bat meets your league or tournament rules.
There are many different sanctioned leagues such as ASA, USSSA, ISA, NSA, ISF, and Senior Softball. And just like fastpitch or baseball, some bats may be legal to use in one league, but illegal in another.
For instance, ASA softball bats should not be used in USSSA leagues and vice versa. However, some bats carry both ASA and USSSA stamps on them, making them legal for use in both ASA and USSSA.
If you’re unsure about your league’s rules, speak to your coach first before making a purchase.
The most popular certifications you should look out for are ASA and USSSA. Look for some of the stamps below from each organization depending on the league you play in, to ensure your bat is allowed for use.
Every player has different needs and preferences. Just because a teammate uses a 27oz bat, doesn’t mean you should too.
A bat that’s too light won’t give you adequate pop. Similarly, if you pick a bat that’s too heavy, you risk sacrificing swing speed & control through the hitting zone.
The best way to find your ideal bat weight is to try out a few different bats and see what works best.
Most slowpitch bats weigh between 26 and 30 ounces. 26 or 27 oz slowpitch bats are ideal for women. If you need an even lighter bat, however, the DeMarini Mercy slowpitch softball bat, for instance, is super lightweight, weighing in at 25 oz.
27 or 28 oz bats are relatively standard for men. However, elite players may use bats that weigh as much as 30 oz.
Balanced Vs. End loaded
Once you’ve settled on the ideal weight, the next thing you need to take into consideration is the weight distribution – is your perfect bat balanced or end-loaded?
This is the most common type of bat. A balanced bat has its total weight distributed evenly throughout its length, from knob to endcap. This even distribution results keeps the bat’s swing weight lower (Lower M.O.I – Moment of Inertia). The lower the swing weight, the faster the bat can be swung and the easier it is to control through the hitting zone.
Balanced bats are the ideal choice for players who want to generate as much bat speed as possible, e.g. Contact hitters or “base hitters.” They provide a much smoother swing and more control through the hitting zone.
End loaded bats, on the other hand, are the perfect pick for players who already generate high swing speeds and like to swing for the fences (power hitters)
They have more weight oriented towards the end cap of the bat. Because they are more “top-heavy,” end-loaded bats are more difficult to control through the hitting zone, but stronger players can leverage this to increase the power of their hits on contact with the ball.
This is one of the things you have to lock down before making a purchase. Most slow pitch bats are made out of composite materials, others are made out of aluminum, while some are made out of wood.
Each of these materials feels different and can significantly affect player performance
Composite material bats are the most common type of bats in most leagues & tournaments. They are made out of a combination of carbon fiber, fiberglass, and graphite. They are lighter than aluminum and wood bats, thus offer players quicker swing speeds.
Key facts about composite bats:
- Are more expensive, but are a lot more durable than aluminum bats
- Composite bats need to be broken in – a simple task that requires about 200 and 250 swings and should take you about 1 hour to do. Once broken in, composite bat performance improves drastically.
- Composite bats are sensitive to temperature changes – Their performance decreases, and are prone to cracking in temperatures below 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Some leagues don’t allow the use of a composite baseball bat, so always check with your coach or your league before buying your bat. Additionally, composite bats are fussy in cold temperatures – Their performance decreases in cold weather, and they are more likely to break as well.
Aluminum bats have been used since the 1970s as an alternative to wood.
Key facts about aluminum bats:
- Ideal for beginners just starting out in the game
- They are less expensive than composite or wood bats. Manufactures make an alloy by adding certain elements to the aluminum. Some additives are better than others, which is why aluminum bats differ in price.
- Do NOT need to be broken in. They come “hot out of the wrapper.”
- Start out having great pop, but that pop slows with use, over time.
- Can be used in any weather, and are the preferred option in cold temperatures. We answer that here: Can I Use My Bat In Cold Weather?
The last material you need to consider is wood. Many leagues are switching to wood for various benefits offered such as safety and cost savings.
The best wood bats are commonly made out of Maple or Bamboo – both durable and robust materials that give your hits extra pop.
When training and trying to better your technique, wood is the best material to play with.
Wood bats are a lot less forgiving and have a smaller sweet spot than aluminum or composite bats.
They help improve bat speed and strength and don’t require to be broken in.
One-Piece vs. Two-Piece
Furthermore, you need to consider the construction of your bat – Do you need a 1-piece or 2-piece bat?
One piece bats are bats that are made entirely out of a single material throughout the bat’s entire length. They give players a stiffer, more traditional feel on contact with the ball. This is the best slow pitch bat for power hitters.
A two-piece bat (aka a half-and-half bat) is made out of two different types of metal and has a handle that is separate from its barrel. It has either a composite barrel connected to an aluminum handle or vice-versa. A connective bit then joins both pieces together.
One significant advantage is that two-piece bats have more flex at the point of contact, giving the bat added whip through the zone.
Additionally, two-piece bats have less sting in the hands during mishits because the handle & the barrel are separate. Two-piece slow pitch bats are the best bats for contact hitters.
Single-Wall vs. Double (Multi) Wall
Today, slow pitch bats are made with two or more barrel walls.
Multi-wall bats have some advantages over their single-wall counterparts. First, they are thought to have a more significant “trampoline effect” because their additional layers provide more spring. Second, they are sturdier and thicker than single-wall bats.
However, some leagues only allow players to use single-wall bats. If you happen to be in one of these leagues, worry not. There are many amazing single-wall softball bats on the market today, and some even perform better than multi-wall bats!
So there you have it – that is almost everything you need to consider before you begin your quest to find the best slow pitch softball bat. If you still haven’t found the right bat for you, try using your teammates bats to get a feel for what you’d want.
The specs of the slow pitch bat you choose can make all the difference in the world. By trying out different weights, materials etc, you’ll to find the right bat for you in no time.
That said, if slow pitch softball bats aren’t your thing, check out our list of the best fastpitch softball bats.
Whatever the case may be, keep looking till you find the best softball bat, then take it out in the field and crush some softballs.