To be able to hit the ball harder, farther, and with more accuracy.
If you’re among the estimated 17 million women softball players, chances are this is on your wish list. It’s not an impossible dream. One quick way to improve your hitting could be by buying one of the new high-tech bats.
Although not specifically designed for women, these bats, made of lightweight aluminum alloy or composite materials, seem especially geared toward women.
The belief used to be that a heavy bat would produce the most powerful hit. Today, the philosophy is that hitting improvements come through increased bat speed, greater rebounding of the ball off the bat, and obtaining maximum momentum at the point of impact.
Increased speed and rebounding means using a lighter bat. And the new materials, because they are much stronger than the 7046 aluminum used since 1968, make it possible for bats to be made with thinner walls. The minimum weight of a regular 7046 aluminum bat is 30 ounces. The new alloys and composites allow bats to weigh as little as 24 ounces. That’s a major difference!
Bat manufacturers say that not only can you hit a ball farther because you can swing a lighter bat faster, but you get an additional rebounding boost because the thinner walls can give and recover. It sounds good in theory, and must be working in practice, because the new bats are becoming the fastest sellers among women.
This is the first year for the ceramic carbon composite bat. The manufacturer, Easton, says ceramic–in addition to being lightweight–dampens the vibration (so there is less ringing in a player’s hand), is well balanced (feels heavier at the end), durable, and sounds like wood.
The newer bats do cost more. The alloy bats range from $60 to $145, while the 7046 bats go from $16 to $45. The ceramic bat sells for $100.
Are the high-tech bats for everyone? They certainly are for beginners, say manufacturers and sporting goods sellers. If you’re more experienced, your best bet is to analyze the results you have been having with various softball bats, and discuss them with a knowledgeable salesperson. For example, late hitters (right-handed batters who hit to right field or vice versa), might think about switching to a lighter bat.
There is unanimous agreement that the real key in selecting a bat is the way it feels in your hands. It has to feel comfortable and you have to have confidence in it.
Here are the most popular and newest bats out from some of the leading manufacturers:
The TPS (Tournament Power Series) is Hillerich & Bradsby’s top-of-the-line alloy bat and also its best seller ($60 to 85). New for 1989 is the TPS “Power End,” retailing for about $90.
In 1986, Steele’s introduced its Pro Star 91 Series, made from the aluminum alloy bauxite. It has, at $75 to $100, become their best-selling bat. Catching up quickly is the company’s Grip of Steele bat, introduced last year ($145), and also made from bauxite. The difference in this bat is the shape of the handle. Company spokesperson Rocky Neale says, “It has a hammer type handle which automatically turns your wrist over to actually make you swing properly.”
The best-selling bat among women from Easton Sports is the SX10, constructed from aluminum alloy ($60). Easton’s newest of that series is the SX100. It has a six-ounce patented weighted end plug and is priced at $90. In mid-summer of 1988, Easton introduced the SXIT alloy bat, featuring a tapered grip with a flared handle that gives the bat a very comfortable feel ($75).
The Worth Company features a high-performance line of alloy bats named “Power Cell.” The top-of-the-line in this series is the PC30, selling for $80. The company’s most popular bat for women is the “Lady Thumper.” It is made from 7046 aluminum, end loaded, and features the “ball biter” finish. It’s a good performer for $30.
Spalding’s most popular bat for women is at the top of their line–the alloy bat called Tournament Plus ($85).
The best-selling bats for women by Marshall & Clark, maker of Power Flight Bats, are in the SBZ Series (aluminum alloy, $70 to $85). New from Marshall Clark is the WIZZ Bat. It has 11 air roles around the barrel, which the company says reduces air resistance ($40).
Before 1968, when the first aluminum bat was in roduced, no one would have dreamed that bats would have been made from anything but wood. Now, as we approach the 1990s, softball bars have officially entered the realm of high technology, and they may help make your batting average above average.