As we mentioned last week, we have decided to extend our annual slowpitch softball review article to include both ASA and USSSA. We have heard loud and clear from our readers that they wanted to see reviews from both certifications. ASA is usually considered to be the most highly regulated association in softball as they generally have the strictest guidelines for bats. The major difference between bats made for ASA play and all other associations is performance. ASA approved bats must adhere to the 98 mph batted-ball speed standard while bats approved for USSSA and other associations are allowed to have a much hotter 100+ mph batted ball speed and a bat performance factor (BPF) of 1.20 or sometimes more.
This year’s list features some stellar softball bats from a variety of companies and we continue to be impressed by the quality and advances in technology. There is been a big focus on player safety so it is unlikely we will see increases in batted-ball speed standards or bat performance factors. Theses strict regulations mean bat companies need to continue to find advances in their technology while adhering to the same standards. What we are seeing is increased durability, better pop right out of the bag, and overall performance improvements in distance and power. We are happy to present our 2016 lineup, read on for the full breakdown!
In addition to having incredible technology and being an overall great bat, the DeMarini engineers have stepped it up a notch with the ability to create your own custom bat. DeMarini allows you to customize not only your slowpitch bats but baseball and fastpitch models as well. We designed our own custom Flipper OG and it came out perfect and quickly became a team favorite. While your custom bat looks sweet, it also performs as good as it looks. The Flipper OG’s 13″” barrel is designed to crush the 52/300 ball. DeMarini’s Divergence Technology provides a large sweet spot and with its new, stiff ZnX Alloy handle, this bat hits a lot of home runs. We had some guys that typically don’t hit for power struggle to keep the ball in the park. The bat comes out of the wrapper hot and is ready to hit. The Flipper OG is the whole package and is fun to design and customize, but it is more fun to watch your ball sail out of the park using your custom bat.
Denny Crine’s signature two-piece bat features a 1 oz. supermax end load design that also contains an optimal handle flex and Triple Matrix Core technology. The Triple Matrix Core is designed to increase Miken’s exclusive aerospace grade material volume by 5%, eliminating wall seams with a carbonized process that maximizes both performance and durability. The DC-41 also features F2P Flex 2 Power which optimizes handle flex to barrel loading, and drive the barrel through the zone with extra speed to help crush the ball. Engineered perfectly for the ASA game, this bat will continue to crush the ball. We recommend a couple of sessions of batting practice to get the bat fully warmed up but once you do, you will enjoy the power to all parts of the field and the pure explosion off the ball and a very generous sweet spot. If you don’t have any ASA bats and have joined a league recently, you need to take a hard look at the DC-41.
Once again DeMarini produces a stellar bat that features increased technology, great durability, and the ability to crush the ball. DeMarini touts the Juggy OG as a bat that was born to go deep. The end-loaded triple wall barrel provides a strong, lightweight hitting zone with a springboard surface. With a TR3 F.L.O. handle, this bat is designed to keep the energy focused on the sweet spot so you can focus on driving in runs. The Juggy OG also features triple wall construction that is engineered to create more momentum with a little more weight in the barrel. Additionally, they tacked on the Big D End Cap to further increase the end load. While the Flipper OG hit home runs a tad farther than the Juggy OG did by a small amount, they were all still home runs with room to spare. Took us about 50-60 swings to fully break in the Juggy OG but has quickly became a team favorite. Great drive to all corners of the field and just really gives a great consistent response off the barrel after every swing.
The new Louisville Slugger Super Z Balanced features iST Xs Technology that is designed to provide an extra-stiff connection between the barrel and handle, which should allow for less flex in the handle and more flex in the barrel. With more flex, you will see an increase in the sweet spot and better spring off the barrel, putting the ball on a nice trajectory to the fence-and probably over. With its balanced design, this bat proves to be very versatile and is a go-to for any player on the team regardless of power ability. You can spray the ball to any part of the field. What we love about this bat is its durability as we have put over 600 swings on this and it still has great pop and feel. We haven’t seen any decrease in the size of the sweet spot and is really battle tested.
The Resmondo features a full 1 oz end load design, HD52 Technology, and 100% carbon fiber barrel which all lead to an extremely well built and top performing ASA bat. If you have used Worth bats in the USSSA market, then you know what to expect with this Worth Legit HD52. It hits for power and has a great feel through the zone. Very lightweight feel coming through the hitting zone and a great spring off of the barrel and the ball seems to just rocket off of that massive sweet spot. Came out of the wrapper hot and after 150 swings it stills seems to be getting hotter. If you are in a league that uses the .52/300 softballs then this bat will absolutely crush those. Worth continues its fine design and USA made craftsmanship.
The Axe Bat made our 2014 list as we we were impressed and intrigued by it’s pattened handle. We found it to be a line drive machine in 2014 and after spending a year on technology improvements, we found it to a line drive machine again, but it is also consistently putting balls over the fence now. The bat is certified for ASA and USSSA but we found it to get much better performance in the ASA leagues. The bat features a two-piece BC Composite construction that merges the big barrel with a balanced swing weight, giving hitters more bat speed while maintaining the large sweet spot. The Axe handle allows you to control your swing and gain leverage by keeping your pinky locked in which will allow you to generate more bat speed through the hitting zone. If you are having a hard time with your hands and wrists rolling too much, you should definitely consider the Axe. Overall, the company has really made some nice improvements since we previously reviewed the bat. It has more pop than ever before, is more consistent, and it is more durable than we found it before- and we liked the the previous version! So that only tells you how good the 2016 edition turned out!
We hope you enjoyed this year’s Best Bats edition and we look forward to doing even more next year. Until then, we hope you swing ’em long and hard!