Top 10 Best Slowpitch Softball Bats for 2017: Buying Guide and Reviews
Last updated on: 29th January, 2018
If you are a member of a slow-pitch softball league, then you already know how crucial and difficult choosing the best slowpitch softball bats is.
In a slow pitch league, the game changes because every pitch is coming in, well, slow.
The pitcher aims to simply get the ball over the plate, slowly, instead of hurling each baseball with the intent of striking the batter out.
Thus, from a hitting perspective, players look for different qualities in their bats and read tons of slow pitch softball bat reviews before making their decision.
Choosing The Best Slowpitch Softball Bat
Slowpitch softball bats are usually around 34 inches in length, sometimes an inch or two shorter or longer, and a 2.25-inch barrel diameter (this barrel diameter is larger compared to normal fastpitch bats and helps enhance distance and pop). Their weight ranges from 26 to 30 ounces, which means they have drop weights between -4 and -8. Most of the best slowpitch softball bats are made from aluminum alloy or composite materials, but there are wooden options available as well. An interesting aspect of slow-pitch softball leagues is that they encompass both male and female athletes of different age ranges and skill sets. Even at the competitive level, some leagues are mix gendered. Not only does this create a more diverse player base, but it increases the range of slowpitch bats available because it has to cover all the different types of hitters.
The major governing bodies of these leagues are the American Softball Association (ASA), United States Specialty Sports Association, National Softball Association (NSA) and the Independent Sports Association (ISA).
Since these leagues each have different rules and guidelines, especially pertaining to the types of bats permitted, it is important to know what type of league you are in, or intend to play in. Despite being generally the same size and weight, slowpitch softball bats have many different design choices that set one apart from the other. This may make the task of choosing the best slowpitch bat seem daunting, especially considering how impactful a good club can be on your performance in slow pitch leagues. However, once you determine an ideal weight, length and type of bat (balanced, end loaded, etc.), it becomes much easier to answer the question of what is the best slowpitch softball bat for you. The best strategy to developing a bat preference is to hit your local batting cage and try different styles out.
Once you have found your favorite style, you can begin exploring the innovative technologies and features offered by the top slowpitch softball bats made by leading manufacturers, such as DeMarini, Miken, Louisville Slugger and others. Examining these features may require you to read several online slowpitch softball bat reviews or even test the bat out firsthand before on the best asa softball bats in order to make a purchasing decision. While some of the hottest slowpitch softball bats may sound great on paper and come highly praised by others, you may have a different opinion when it is in your hands. The following bats are listed in no particular order; one bat is not superior or inferior to the next. Considering the diverse player base in slowpitch softball leagues and the different hitting preferences this presents, the list of best slowpitch softball bats aims to cover a variety of styles and designs suited for a range of athletes.
2016 Louisville Slugger Z4 Slowpitch Softball Bat
Louisville Slugger’s Z4 is a great option for nearly any hitter because it is available with a balanced swing weight or end loaded.
Thus, no matter if you are a contact hitter or power hitting slugger, the Z4 has you covered.
Z4 End Loaded
In addition to its range of styles, this 100% composite bat has a 12-inch long barrel with a 2.25-inch diameter; the bat’s handle is ⅞-inch and tapers up to the barrel. The TRU3 technology includes a rubber insert between the connection point of the handle and barrel, which means the 2016 Z4 is actually a 3-piece bat. The insert produces a stiff connection that maximizes energy transfer. The finish of the bat is purposely gritty. According to the engineers at Louisville Slugger, the rougher surface of the bat can actually produce greater backspin on batted balls and send them a greater distance.
Also helping the bat achieve good pop is its S1iD barrel technology, which precisely optimizes the bat’s trampoline effect on balls.
Available as both a balanced bat and end loaded
Accepted by all major slowpitch league associations (including USSSA, ASA, NSA etc.)
Grit Blast Finish and S1iD Barrel Technology improves bat pop
TRU3 Tech offers stiff feel, similar to a one-piece bat
Handle’s grip leaves something to be desired
Long break in period (longer with the end loaded model)
Bat’s durability greatly compromised with harder core softballs
The 2016 Louisville Slugger Z4 Slowpitch bat is an all around good bat. It offers a competitive amount of pop and its few drawbacks are very minor. For its features and level of performance, it has a very competitive price point.
2016 DeMarini SF8 Slowpitch Softball Bat
For the true power hitter that looks for an end loaded bat, the DeMarini SF8 is one of the better options available. It is a hybrid, two-piece bat with a 13-inch long barrel and 2.25-inch barrel diameter.
The C6 composite handle is wrapped in .6mm, ultra thin grip and helps optimize flex and works alongside the bat’s ZnX alloy barrel. A big reason that the 2016 DeMarini SF8 Slowpitch bat is so successful as an end loaded bat is thanks to its Big D End Cap. This bat technology increases the end load amount and helps keep the energy created upon contact on the sweet spot. For even greater power, the barrel of this stick is constructed with double walls. This has a multiplying effect on the bat’s trampolining of batted balls, especially compared to bats with only a single wall. Add in the ZnX alloy and you have some explosive potential. Also worth mentioning is the SF8’s RCI Knob. This is a feature common to many DeMarini bats. While it doesn’t necessary enhance the performance of the bat, it does add a certain level of comfort because this knob is precisely shaped to fit the natural contour of the bottom of your hand.
Big D End Cap enhances end load and power potential
Double-Wall Design improves pop
RCI Knob is comfortable on the hands
Approved for most major slowpitch softball associations, including ASA, USSSA and others
Has durability issues
Very long break in period
Ultra-thin grip doesn’t dampen vibrations
As far as slowpitch softball end loaded bats go, the 2016 DeMarini SF8 is a big contender. It has an affordable price and the types of features that power hitters look for. Its main drawback is a lot of consumers report it breaking before their season was even over.
Brett Bros. Thunder Bamboo & Maple Wood Bat
As mentioned earlier, slow-pitch softball leagues incorporate both wooden and metallic bats. While the aluminum alloy and other metal bat types are more common, some hitters prefer the “authentic” feel and sound of a wooden bat. Brett Bros. offers a great line of affordable wooden sticks for different leagues and hitting preferences. The Thunder is a composite wooden bat that consists of a bamboo core surrounded by a maple barrel.
The bamboo core enhances the bat’s overall durability and allows it to be used year-round, no matter what the temperature is outside. To further enhance the Thunder’s durability, the Brett Bros. have reinforced the bat’s handle with fiberglass. This patented bat technology should withstand ball contact all the way down the taper of the bat, without shattering the stick. The bat’s end is cupped, which helps give the bat a more balanced feel. Its estimated length-to-weight rating is -6. The Thunder is it is only certified by the ASA. If you are playing in a non-ASA league, you will have to consult your league officials to check if the Thunder is a viable bat choice.
Authentic, stiff wooden feel
Exceptional durability for wood bat
Can be used year-round
Wooden bats don’t have as much pop or performance-enhancing features as metal bats
Bat can shatter, especially around the handle
Not useable in all slowpitch league associations
Despite being a wooden bat that is capable of breaking, its extra affordable price tag and durable composite design and handle make it well worth it (not to mention, it is less likely to break a bat in slow-pitch leagues because you will rarely hit a ball on a weak part of the bat). It is an excellent slowpitch softball bat for a player who prefers the feel and performance of wood.
DeMarini Juggy End Loaded Slowpitch Softball Bat
The Juggy is another end loaded offering by DeMarini. As such, it has a lot of the same properties as the SF8, such as the comfort-enhancing RCI Knob and the Big D End Cap, for an even greater end load. However, the DeMarini Juggy is designed and certified for play in only senior slowpitch leagues, such as the SSUSA. Thus, while having the same 2.25-inch barrel diameter as the SF8, the Juggy’s barrel is an inch shorter.
Also different in design, the Juggy is a two-piece, 100% composite bat, rather than hybrid. The 4.One composite material used is noteably long lasting and delivers tremendous pop. For a composite, metallic bat, the 2016 Juggy end loaded bat has a very low and affordable price point. That said, it is worth pointing out that it has no warranty.
Powerful end loaded bat for senior slowpitch play
RCI Knob is comfortable on the hands
4.ONE Composite Material offers good durability and pop
Not allowed in ASA, USSSA or other non-senior slowpitch leagues
Thin grip does little to dampen unpleasant feedback
While the 2016 End Loaded DeMarini Juggy is only usable in senior slowpitch softball leagues, it’s very low price point more than makes up for this shortcoming. bIf you are looking for a bat for a senior slowpitch league with a little heft to it, then look no further.
2017 Dudley Lightning Legend 2.0 Slowpitch Bat
Dudley came back to the slowpitch softball game last year and now they are back again with the revised Lightning Legend Series. The Legend 2.0 series has three models. Each variation of the 2017 Legend has a different swing weight: balanced, end loaded and advanced end load.
Lightning Legend 2.0 End Loaded (-12)
Lightning Legend 2.0 Balanced (-13)
Lightning Legend 2.0 End Loaded (-13)
This series of bats are all one-piece sticks that have a 13-inch barrel length (advanced end load has a 12-inch length instead) and a barrel diameter of 2.25 inches. The 2017 Dudley Lightning Legend 2.0 slowpitch bat gets its power from two key features:
the Fusion composite material,
the bat’s Grip Spin Technology.
Not only does the Lightning Legend 2.0’s Fusion composite material help improve the bat’s pop, but it is also specially engineered to give the bat impressive durability and very little break in period. It is worth noting that this bat has no warranty and is meant for senior slowpitch leagues.
Useable right out of the wrapper
Three different models for different hitter profiles
Advanced end load available for the very serious power hitter
Mid-to-high end price point
Not useable in ASA, USSSA etc. play
Overall, the 2017 Lightning Legend 2.0’s biggest selling point is its various different models for different styles of hitting, especially the advanced end load, which is difficult to find as a senior slowpitch softball bat. Its biggest drawback is its price point, which some players may find a bit out of their budget.
2017 Miken PSYCHO SuperMax Slowpitch Bat
The 2017 Miken PSYCHO SuperMax bat is another one of those options that can keep a power hitter happy all season.
This two-piece composite bat has a 2.25-inch barrel diameter and is dressed head to toe in performance-enhancing features.
The composite material it is made from is 100% premium, aerospace-grade carbon fiber. If that wasn’t enough to ensure performance and durability, the Miken Engineers also gave the PSYCHO SuperMax a Triple Matrix Core. This helps eliminate seams and weak points in the bat. You’ll have no problem keeping the bat intact this season and next. Aside from this slowpitch bat’s impressive SuperMax end load weight, it also generates additional power from its superior bat whip through the strike zone. It achieves this through the Flex 2 Power Technology, which optimizes the flex index of the bat, so it can cut through the strike zone as quick as possible. The bat has a high end price and is certified for USSSA, NSA and ISA play (it is not certified for ASA leagues, so be sure to double check what slowpitch league association your team participates in).
Super durable and capable of lasting a long time
Good speed through the zone => adds power
SuperMax end load is slightly heavier than your average end load for more heft
Approved for most major slowpitch leagues
Not useable in ASA leagues
Extra end load weight isn’t for everyone
The 2017 Miken PSYCHO SuperMax slowpitch softball bat is on the higher end of the price spectrum, but for good reason. It’s made with top-of-the-line materials (it is hard to argue with aerospace-grade carbon fiber!) and features that make it standout. Even though you’ll pay more, it should last longer, which means you may get more bang for your buck anyways.
Miken Ultra II Senior Slowpitch Softball Bat
If you are looking for the same level of power and performance as the PSYCHO SuperMax, but in a bat that is attuned for senior slowpitch leagues, then look no further than the Miken Ultra II stick. While this bat doesn’t use the premium materials as its SuperMax cousin, that also means it comes at a more affordable, midrange price.
Even without those high end materials, the Ultra II achieves fair durability thanks to its Carbon X-Shell Technology, which helps protect the seams and weaker points of the bat with a thicker carbon fiber shell. However, if the bat does break or crack, it is important to know that it carries zero warranty. What truly makes the Miken Ultra II a prize winner is its E-Flex Ultra Flex barrel design. This performance-enhancing bat technology allows the walls of the bat’s barrel to flex inwards upon contact with the ball. This generates a larger trampoline effect on batted balls and gives the hitter a much larger sweet spot to work with. You’ll continuously be hitting the ball harder and farther. As a bat designed for senior slowpitch leagues, it has a barrel length of 13.5 inches (longer than most competitors models) and a diameter of 2.25 inches. It is not approved for non-senior leagues, such as ASA or USSSA play.
Extended barrel length lets you reach outside tosses
Big sweet spot and massive trampoline potential on balls
Not useable in ASA, USSSA or other popular league associations
The Miken Ultra II Senior Slowpitch softball bat has two key things going for it:
a fair price,
massive pop potential.
If you are looking to wow your teammates with balls that just seem to disappear off the end of your bat, the E-Flex Ultra Tech inside this bat’s barrel will certainly serve that purpose.
2016 DeMarini ONE Balanced Senior Bat
The 2016 DeMarini ONE senior slowpitch softball bat is the balanced sibling to the 2016 DeMarini Juggy. They have very similar features, but their overall design is geared towards different styles of hitting. Thus, many of those features are tuned or used differently.
For instance, the ONE uses the Big D End Cap as well, but instead of adding to the bat’s end load weight, this feature serves a different purpose inside the One. It helps reduce vibrations and actually lowers the swing weight. Thus, a contact hitter can swing faster and with more confidence, knowing they won’t get that nasty bat sting in return. The 2016 DeMarini ONE has a slightly longer barrel, at 13 inches, which helps the hitter reach the outside parts of the plate. It uses the same durable 4.One composite material as the Juggy, as well as the RCI Knob that is synonymous with all DeMarini bats. Unfortunately, this two-piece senior slowpitch bat has no warranty. However, its price has dropped considerably with 2017 quickly approaching. Thus, it is even more affordable now; you can pick one up for under $100.
Long barrel for swatting outside pitches
Good vibration dampening
Low swing weight => good for contact hitting
New low price
Senior Slowpitch leagues only
With its new price, you are essentially getting a high end bat for a low end cost. It is hard to argue with that. If you are a contact hitter in a senior slowpitch league, there are few options that are going to deliver this same ratio of affordability and performance.
2017 AXE Avenge Slowpitch Softball Bat
If you’ve never seen an AXE bat before, its design may throw you for a loop. AXE designs the handle of their bats after how an actual axe handle functions. Accordingly, this style of handle is more comfortable, gives the hitter more control and can even prevent injuries.
Aside from the ergonomic design of the handle, it also features AXE’s Flex Handle Technology, which maximizes whip and barrel speed as you swing through strike zone. The result is harder hit balls with added pop. This two-piece bat uses BCP composite materials in the barrel, which are carefully tempered to improve their strength, without adding any extra weight. Because of the unique design of the bat’s handle, batter’s using an AXE bat consistently hit on the same side of the bat. Thus, that surface has to be especially durable. The 2017 AXE Avenge is certified for play in most major slowpitch leagues, including ASA, USSSA, NSA, etc. It does have a high price point, but it is backed by a year-long manufacturer’s warranty.
Redesigned handle improves control, comfort and helps the bat’s durability thanks to one-side hitting
Flex handle creates impressive bat whip as you swing
Approved for many major slowpitch leagues
Low swing weight is ideal for contact hitters
Unique design of the handle may take some getting used to
Not very suitable for power hitters
The AXE bat handle has been highly rated after its first couple years on the market. That said, it does taking some getting used to. So, the biggest plus to this bat is also its biggest potential drawback. If you like the AXE handle and can get used to hitting with it, this bat will be a tremendous help to your hitting. Otherwise, you may want to stick with a bat that has a more traditional handle.
2017 Worth Triple Crown XL Reload Slowpitch Bat
The 2017 Worth Triple Crown has an elongated 13.5-inch barrel, with the standard 2.25-inch diameter. It is a two-piece bat made from 100% carbon fiber, to give it a lighter swing and improved durability.
It is designed for USSSA play, but is also useable in NSA and ISA leagues (not certified for ASA). What makes the Triple Crown XL Reload an interesting choice is its “Reloaded” end load. It is slightly less than your normal end load weight. Thus, this bat would be an excellent choice for someone that is right in the middle between contact and power hitter or is looking to transition to a bat with some added weight. Aside from the power added by this slight end load weight, the Triple Crown XL Reload generates substantial pop thanks to its double wall construction. As aforementioned, these double walls help multiply the bat’s trampoline effect on batted balls for greater distance. Additionally, the bat achieves superior whip through the strike zone because of its Flex 50 Handle Technology. With this added bat whip, you will cut through the strike zone quicker, while simultaneously putting more oomph behind each contact.
Competitive, midrange price
Slight end load is good for transitioning players
Substantial pop and bat whip
Is not ASA approved
Again, the biggest selling point of this bat is its slight end load. This is not a common feature and if you are a player that is floating between hitting for contact and hitting for power, it may provide you with the perfect answer to your prayers. That said, the bat has a midrange price, but lots of performance-enhancing features to justify that price.
Hopefully, each slowpitch bat review above has helped you make your decision as to what the best slowpitch softball bat is. If you are looking for cheap slowpitch bats, it is hard to argue with the prices of the DeMarini Juggy or ONE. That said, the best DeMarini slowpitch bat is really the 2016 SF8. Its end loaded weight, double wall construction and Big D End Cap come together to make one of the highest performing bats on the list. For 2017, there are still a lot of top rated slowpitch softball bats yet to come. If we have to choose a standout candidate right now, it has to be the Miken PSYCHO SuperMax. Miken has already proven to hitters before that it knows how to make some of the best slowpitch bats out there and this 2017 model is no exception.