The ASA is also the oldest softball association in the world and responsible for the National Softball Hall of Fame and Museum and nearby ASA Hall of Fame Stadium, which hosts the World Cup of Softball, NCAA Big 12 Conference and subsequent Women’s College World Series.
By the numbers, the ASA consists of over 3 million players, thousands of umpires and league officials and spans across 50 states and beyond.
What Are The ASA’s Regulations For Bat Certification
The ASA manages youth and adult leagues for both slowpitch and fastpitch softball play.
They have corresponding rules, with regards to appropriate bats, for each type of play.
To qualify a bat for play, the ASA uses a “batted-ball speed standard” (BBS), which determines the maximum level of performance allowed by bats.
The batted-ball speed standard regulates how fast a ball can leave the bat after a hit.
Introduced in early 2000, this standard (and many others similar to it, like the Bat Performance Factor, or BPF)) was designed to protect infielders, especially the pitcher, from balls hit at potentially deadly speeds.
For bats to be approved and certified by the ASA, they must have a BBS standard of 98 mph.
The ASA has designated this as a safe level of performance for bats, which helps protect pitchers and other players in the event of a sharp line drive.
Fastpitch and slowpitch softball bats that are approved by the ASA, and meet the acceptable BBS requirement, carry a certification mark issued by association.
These stamps are issued every few years, as needed, when the ASA alters its rules and regulatory standards.
The most recent certification issued by the ASA was in 2013.
It’s also worth mentioning that the ASA does not permit bats manufactured before 2000 because that is the year they began testing for batted ball speeds.
Other bats initially received ASA certification, but later became banned as the ASA’s guidelines changed.
For a complete list of these regulations and approved bats, you can visit the ASA’s website.
In most cases, a new fastpitch or slowpitch softball bat will likely carry the correct 2013 (or newer) stamp and be permitted to play.
Without the appropriate ASA stamp, it is up to the umpire or league official present to determine whether or not the bat is legal for play.
Since rules can change even from area to area, it may be worth the time to consult an authority figure in your league before you make a final purchasing decision.
How to Pick the Best ASA Softball Bat
When choosing the appropriate ASA, approved bat for a slowpitch or fastpitch league, as always, you have to assess the type of of player you are.
By knowing your height, weight and hitting style, you can determine the exact bat size you need and whether you want an end-loaded, power hitting bat or a more balanced stick.
Other preferences, such as one-piece versus two-piece, are less important, but should be explored if you are interested in finding the absolute best fit in a bat.
Affordability is also always worth considering. Many premier softball bats out there can cost hundreds of dollars.
If you are in a competitive league, such as fastpitch high school or college play, having the best of the best is crucial to you and your team’s success.
Thus, spending a little extra money for those performance-enhancing features can be essential.
On the other hand, if you plan to play in an amateur slowpitch softball league, chances are you don’t need that expensive DeMarini, even if it will help you drive the ball farther.
The 2018 CFX takes the level of DeMarini excellence to another level with its wide range of features and impressive technologies.
This two-piece composite fastpitch bat is available in a wide range of models. In terms of drop weights, the CFX series runs from a heavier -8 to the lighter -11.
2018 CFX (-8) Fastpitch Bat
2018 CFX (-9) Fastpitch Bat
2018 CFX (-11) Fastpitch Bat
There are three models that share a -10 drop. One, the CFX slapper, is designed for left-handed hitters and the other, the CFX Insane, has a slight end load that appeals to power hitters.
2018 CFX Insane (-10) Endload
2018 CFX Slapper (-10)
2018 CFX (-10) Balanced
With all these different variations, the 2018 DeMarini CFX has an option for all types of batters.
At the top of the bat is the 3-Fusion End Cap, which helps fine-tune the CFX’s weight distribution.
This creates an even more balanced swing and allows the hitter to control the barrel of the bat more effectively.
It also helps improve the bat’s integrity for longer lasting durability.
Moving down the bat, the Paraflex Composite Barrel is 22% stronger than prior DeMarini CF-series bats.
The Half + Half Design helps negate painful vibrations on mishits and actually makes the sweet spot even more explosive than normal.
Also helping to eliminate the pain of bat sting is the 3-Fusion Handle Technology.
Not only does this dampen vibrations, but it helps redirect the energy caused at the moment of contact and transfers it back into the barrel and thereby batted balls.
Finally, at the very bottom of the bat, is the RCK Knob. This knob is common in all DeMarini bats because it is anatomically designed to fit the batter’s bottom hand. This creates a more comfortable grip.
Lots of performance-enhancing features for a high performing bat
Negates bat sting and transfers that energy back into the barrel
Available in multiple drop weights and styles to appeal to any type of hitter
New bat means paying a high expense
The DeMarini CF-Series has long been a favorite of fastpitch softball players.
The new, 2018 CFX is only going to continue that legacy. However, because it is a brand new bat, it has a high price point.
2018 Louisville Slugger XENO Fastpitch Bat
The 2018 Louisville Slugger XENO is a fully composite, two-piece, fastpitch softball bat.
It is available with a -11, -10, -9 or -8 length to weight ratio and the 2.25-inch barrel diameter required by the ASA certification.
2018 Xeno (-8) Fastpitch Bat
2018 Xeno (-9) Fastpitch Bat
2018 Xeno (-10) Fastpitch Bat
2018 Xeno (-11) Fastpitch Bat
Because of its range of drop weights, it makes a great ASA softball bat for younger and older players.
The latest XENO is a balanced bat with a lightning-fast swing speed.
Part of the reason its swing speed is so impressively quick is thanks to the ultra-lightweight X Cap.
Not only does this enhance swing speed, but it also optimizes the barrel’s length for an even bigger sweet spot. This enlarged zone produces powerful, scorching hits.
For even more performance, the barrel of the bat features Louisville Slugger’s patented S1ID Barrel Technology.
This small, circular disk resides inside the barrel. It helps by compressing the barrel to the perfect level, for even more powerful hits.
To help negate vibrations and bat sting, the 2018 Louisville Slugger XENO features the company’s patented IST Technology.
Similar to Easton’s CONNEXION+ feature, this bat technology is at the connection point between the XENO’s barrel and handle.
It is designed to enhance the bat’s energy transfer. This creates an overall better feel at the moment of contact.
This IST Technology is important for negating bat sting, especially because the 2018 XENO fastpitch softball bat’s grip leaves something to be desired.
It’s a simplistic, synthetic grip, which is comfortable to hold, but isn’t as tacky as the grips of competing models. Luckily, this is an inexpensive fix.
Very fast, lightweight swing
IST Technology reduces bat sting and redirects energy to the barrel
Affordable price for a brand new, 2018 fastpitch softball bat
If you are a player on a budget that can’t afford the high-priced DeMarini or Easton bats, the 2018 Louisville Slugger XENO presents a nice, more affordable alternative that has plenty of the performance-enhancing features of these competing bats.
2018 Louisville Slugger LXT Fastpitch Bat
The 2018 Louisville Slugger LXT has been a favorite in the company’s bat lineups for many years.
One of the biggest draws to this balanced, light swinging bat is that it is actually a three-piece bat, thanks to the TRU3 Technology.
This third piece of the bat is a small, rubber insert placed at the connection point between barrel and handle.
It acts to eliminate vibrations felt on the hands and improves the overall durability of the bat.
2018 LXT (-8) Fastpitch Bat
2018 LXT (-9) Fastpitch Bat
2018 LXT (-10) Fastpitch Bat
2018 LXT (-11) Fastpitch Bat
As a result, the LXT has a feel to it, when hitting balls, that is unlike any other fastpitch softball bat on the list.
Not only do the hits made with the 2018 Louisville Slugger LXT feel great, they also explode with a lot of pop to this bat.
The PBF barrel technology makes sure that the LXT has a huge sweet spot.
In fact, it has the largest sweetspot out of the Louisville Slugger’s lineup of fastpitch bats.
Adding more pop and bat speed to the hitter’s performance is the incredibly lightweight X-Cap at the end of the barrel.
This actually elongates the barrel for more hitting surface (and is a big contributor to that super large sweet spot) and helps the batter improve their swing speed.
The 2018 Louisville Slugger LXT is hot right out of the box, so there’s no need to break it in at batting practice.
It is available in four drop weights: -11, -10, -9 and -8. This means it caters to a wide range of hitters.
Even an older, power hitter might find a new favorite bat with the heaviest drop -8.
The PXT is a new bat in the Louisville Slugger repertoire for 2018. It is very similar to the LXT, but with a few changes.
Mainly, the PXT is geared with a little extra weight and heft to it, which makes it the closest thing to a power hitting, end loaded bat that Louisville Slugger offers.
It is important to note that the PXT is not actually end loaded, but rather has what the popular bat company refers to as a “power balanced swing weight.”
This means that it still achieves a balanced swing, but requires some strength, on the hitter’s part, to produce enough swing speed to make the bat truly shine.
2018 PXT (-8) Fastpitch Bat
2018 PXT (-9) Fastpitch Bat
2018 PXT (-10) Fastpitch Bat
This new PXT has the same TRU3 technology of the LXT, which means it is also a three-piece bat and achieves significant vibration dampening and a great feel.
This helps build confidence in the hitter because they can swing without the worry of bat sting.
It also has the same lightweight X-cap for a longer barrel and faster swing speed.
In place of the PBF barrel is the PWR STAX. This barrel is constructed with multiple layers to maximize the trampoline effect exerted onto batted balls.
In other words, it amplifies both performance and pop at the plate.
Also unique to the PXT is the X-Grip. Both the Louisville Slugger XENO and LXT have problems with their average, synthetic grip.
This grip, on the other hand, delivers on both comfort and tack. The hitter’s hands will stay in place better and won’t drift as much during their swing.
This bat is available in three drop weights, including a -8, -9 and -10.
Closest thing to an end loaded fastpitch bat that Louisville Slugger offers
X-Grip is much better than other Louisville Slugger bats
PWR STAX barrel technology creates impressive pop to further build the hitter’s confidence
Power balanced swing weight may have too much heft for slap and contact hitters
Price is higher than the already mid-to-high LXT
New bat model means it hasn’t been tested like the LXT and XENO have over the years
The 2018 Louisville Slugger PXT presents an exciting addition to the company’s lineup, especially for stronger hitters who need something with a little more heft.
While the price is a little high, early consumer reports suggest that it is well worth it because of the huge power and explosive potential that the bat has.
2018 Mizuno Jennie Finch Fastpitch Bat
For younger, smaller players, the 2018 Mizuno Jennie Finch fastpitch bat is a great option.
Not only is it more more affordable than many of the above, high end bats, but it also has a very light -13 length-to-weight ratio, which makes it perfect for any fresh, youth softball players.
As a youth bat, it has a balanced swing weight. It is a one-piece bat constructed with aluminum alloy.
This produces a stiff feel that is responsive upon contact.
This can be a helpful tool for player’s learning the game and creating the foundation for their hitting mechanics because it allows them to feel, with better precision, when they are hitting the sweet spot or just missing it.
Thus, they can hone in on where on the barrel they should be making contact.
Bat sting can be a big issue for young players for this exact reason.
They are still learning where and how to hit, which means they have a much greater propensity to mishit and create painful vibrations down on the handle and their hands.
To help combat bat sting, the Mizuno Jennie Finch Fastpitch bat implements a cushioned, synthetic grip.
This youth fastpitch bat is made from Mizuno’s 2200+ alloy. This material is engineered with two things in mind: performance and durability.
The 2018 Jennie Finch model bat is designed to last long and produce good, solid hits to build confidence in young players.
Plus, this bat was designed and inspired based on a collaboration between Mizuno and olympic USA softball icon, Jennie Finch.
So, you know your son or daughter is getting a bat that was driven by the influence of a true softball legend.
Very affordable, even for a youth model
Inspired by softball all-star Jennie Finch
One-piece design can be instrumental in teaching young players how to hit correctly
Only available in one drop weight (-13)
Despite the cushioned grip, the stiff bat may still produce some bat sting
Considering its price and design features, there is likely not a better youth fastpitch softball bat than the 2018 Mizuno Jennie Finch bat.
2018 Rawlings Aspire Fastpitch Softball Bat
Competing with the Jennie Finch-inspired Mizuno youth bat is the 2018 Rawlings Aspire.
It actually has similar features to the Mizuno bat, but has a slightly heavier 12.5 length-to-weight ratio.
It may be a better fit for a youth player on the older side of the age range.
It is a one-piece, fully composite softball bat. Again, the one-piece design delivers a stiffer and more responsive feel, which can help a young player better determine where the best location on the bat is to make contact.
The drawback to one-piece bats is that their responsiveness can also create even more painful bat sting.
Rawlings tries to remedy this with a synthetic bat grip.
However, since this is a new 2018 fastpitch softball bat, it is still too early to know how effective this grip actually is in negating bat sting.
The Rawlings Aspire also features a “360-degree hitting surface” that is meant to make it easier to make good contact by producing zero dead spots across the barrel.
While this can help to build confidence because there are fewer mishits, it counteracts the instructiveness of the responsive, one-piece design.
Grip aimed to reduce vibrations
One-piece bat lets young hitters feel when they are making great contact and when they aren’t
Bat grip aims to reduce negative feedback
360-degree hitting surface undermines the one-piece, responsive feel
Uncertain how effective the grip is at dampening bat sting
The 2018 Rawlings Aspire fastpitch softball bat has the makings of a great youth bat.
However, as a new model, there’s a lot of questions about how well the bat will actually deliver on some of its features.
2017 Miken Freak Platinum ASA Slowpitch Bat
Since pitchers in slowpitch softball aren’t pitching the ball quickly, these bats are designed with an emphasis on power and explosiveness.
The Miken Freak Platinum delivers on this with its Freakish design that is all about crushing the ball hard and far.
Almost every feature of this bat is geared towards producing more energy, more power and more performance.
Miken Freak Platinum Maxload
Miken Freak Platinum Balanced
The Miken Freak Platinum is made from a revolutionary 100% composite material created with aerospace-grade fibers.
Not only does this improve the bat’s performance at the plate, but also its durability.
You can be comforted knowing your bat has the integrity to last all season long and then some.
The true powersource of the Miken Freak Platinum is its core, specifically the Tetra-Core Technology.
The way this bat feature works is by giving the barrel both an outer and inner tube, or core.
The inner tube optimizes the barrel’s compression, which produces an insane trampoline effect on batted balls.
The outer core, on the other hand, gives the bat its flex index, sweet spot and added durability.
Again, slowpitch softball is all about mashing the ball as hard as you can, which means swinging without the worry of potentially painful bat sting.
The Sensi-Flex technology of this bat aims to eliminate the unpleasant feedback caused by mishits.
That alone would be enough, but this performance-enhancing feature doesn’t stop there; it also redirects energy back into the barrel.
Thus, no joules (unit of energy) are lost and every ounce of your power is poured into the ball at the moment of contact.
This bat is available with a balanced or end loaded swing weight.
So even if you aren’t beefy enough to swing the half-ounce end load of the 2017 Miken Freak Platinum Maxload ASA slowpitch softball bat, you can still experience all of the cover-shredding potential of this bat with its balanced, non-loaded model.
Every feature of this bat helps produce more power
Available with a balanced swing weight or end loaded for more pop
Aerospace-grade fibers and materials improve bat’s longevity
2017 model suggests a new Miken Freak Platinum is about to hit the market
Mid-to-high price range, even as a last year model
The 2017 Miken Freak Platinum ASA slowpitch softball bat delivers on everything a hitter looks for, especially power and performance.
Plus, it is available with or without an end load, which makes it appealing to all types of hitters, contact or power hitting.
The Maxload version is arguably the best ASA softball bat for home runs and slugging the long ball.
2017 Easton Ronin Slowpitch Softball Bat
The Easton Ronin is a curious case because of its three available models.
Unlike the Miken Freak (and many other bat models) which differentiates its models by end loaded or not or with different drop weights, this bat has three models for the different materials and design.
There is the one-piece alloy Ronin, a one-piece composite Ronin and a two-piece, fully composite model as well.
One-piece Alloy Slowpitch Bat
One-piece Composite Slowpitch Bat
Two-piece Composite Slowpitch Bat
Thus, each model also has slightly different features from one another.
The reason that the Easton Ronin makes the list is its price. Compared to most bats, the Ronin is modestly priced.
While the two-piece, composite model is markedly more expensive than the one-piece variations, even that price is over $100 less than many competing models, including the Miken Freak Platinum.
Aside from its affordability, the 207 Easton Ronin has a number of design features that also make it noteworthy.
The composite Ronins use an IMX Advanced composite material.
This maximizes the potential of the sweet spot and makes helps the bat’s barrel really shine in performance.
For the alloy Ronin, the barrel has thinner walls and an ATAC alloy.
Each Easton Ronin has a 1.2mm HYPERSKIN Grip.
This grip is designed for comfort and doesn’t do much to dull bat sting, which can be important in the one-piece bats because these are much more responsive than a two-piece bat.
On the other hand, the two-piece composite bat does include Easton’s CXN ZERO technology for vibration dampening.
It’s worth mentioning that the two-piece composite Easton Ronin also has a 1.5-inch longer barrel than its one-piece counterparts.
Affordable price makes it appealing for budgeting slowpitch softball players
Multiple versions suit different player preferences
Both composite and alloy barrels are made to withstand rough play and perform well
Stiff, one-piece models don’t have any features to reduce bat sting
Grip could be better and may be worth replacing
While you’re getting an affordable bat compared to many other slowpitch models, affordable often means fewer features and that’s exactly the problem with the 2017 Easton Ronin.
That said, it is nice that it has three different models to choose from.
Viper Pro ASA Wood Slowpitch Bats
Finding a wooden bat in softball is a pretty rare occurrence.
Typically, they are too heavy for fastpitch softball players to swing with enough speed to generate good contact on softballs.
Plus, the added weight of the larger ball can cause breaks in wooden bats.
It is a similar story for slowpitch softball, where players are trying to generate the most power possible with the fastest swinging bat.
Wood just doesn’t make the cut.
That has not stopped Viper from producing a lineup of wooden softball bats.
The company believes in the traditional sound, feel and performance of wooden bats and thus makes certain that any player, in any league, has access to a high-quality wood bat.
The Viper Pro ASA-approved wood bats are great sticks, even compared to their metal counterparts.
Maple is the most popular wood choice, but these bats also come in bamboo, beech, birch and ash.
Each type of wood has their own properties, but maple is one of the strongest, in terms of durability.
Despite having between a -4 and -6 length-to-weight ratio (much heavier than most other softball bats), Viper designs its sticks to be “ultra light.”
And, they carry some decent power due to an extra long barrel, which gives the barrel a larger sweet spot than normal. These wood bats have a 2.25-inch barrel diameter.
While maple and some of the other wood types that Viper offers are durable and help protect the bat from breaking, it is important to note that these wooden bats carry no manufacturer warranty.
If the bat breaks, it breaks.
That said, they do allow you to return bats that are not cut to your exact specifications or have noticeable blemishes.