You might think that baseball and softball bats don’t have any differences as they look almost identical if you take a fast glimpse at them. However, these are still two different sports with two different kinds of balls, so it would make sense that the bats have differences.
Baseball and softball bats have many differences. Baseball bats are heavier, shorter, and thicker than softball bats. In addition, a baseball bat’s handle is longer, whereas the barrier is shorter, giving it a different weight distribution. Major Baseball League allows only wooden bats, whereas softball bats are used mainly with metal ones.
That’s a lot of differences right there, but it doesen’t explain why they are so different after all. You need to stick with me a while longer to understand why that is, and I’ll explain everything you need to know! Let’s examine the material differences first.
- Material Differences Between Baseball and Softball Bats
- Lenght & Weight Differences Between Baseball and Softball Bats
- Barrel & Handle Differences Between Baseball and Softball Bats
- Can You Use a Softball Bat for Baseball?
- My Favorite Softball Equipment
Material Differences Between Baseball and Softball Bats
There are many differences to go through, so I’m going to start with one of the most important ones, materials.
There are wooden bats in both baseball and softball, but there are slight differences between the bats.
Generally, baseball bats are made out of three types of wood: Maple, Ash, and Birch. Even though there are other woods, such as hickory and bamboo, I will focus on the three main types.
- Maple – Bats made out of maple wood are the hardest and heaviest as it’s density is the highest out of the three kinds of wood. They are very stiff and offer little to non-flexibility. Players with high strength often chooses maple bats as they are generating more power but are harder to swing because of the heavier weight.
- Birch– Birch bats are heavier than ash but lighter than maple bats as the density is between the two kinds of wood. They offer moderate flexibility and are quite fast to swing. If you aren’t extra strong or weak, then a birch bat should be your choice as it’s the golden middle road for wooden bats.
- Ash – Ash bats are the most lightweight choice of the tree woods as its density is the smallest. They offer flexibility and a better trampoline effect on the ball, giving it extra speed when hit. Players that doesen’t have great strength often choose ash bats as they are faster to swing due to the lightweight, yet powerful enough thanks to the trampoline effect.
What about wooden softball bats? Softballs are bigger and harder than baseball, so they can’t be hit with low-density wood as it wouldn’t last too long. That’s why wooden softball bats are almost exclusively made from maple or birch.
The same principles hold with the woods and their features and preferred uses. However, to remember, most wooden fastpitch bats are made from maple, as it’s the best wood for such rough treatment. Slowpitch bats can be made out of birch or other woods.
Aluminum (alloy) is a very popular material for both baseball and softball bats. Generally, aluminum bats are better than wood in almost all ways, such as faster swing due to lighter weight, more power, and larger sweet spot.
However, this doesen’t mean that they are always in use. The MLB (Major League Baseball) rule 3.02(a) states that the bat shall be one piece of solid wood, which means that wood is the only material allowed in pro-level baseball.
It is quite the opposite in softball. This is because wood isn’t the best material for softball as the ball is harder and heavier than a baseball, so pro softball players always use aluminum or composite bats.
A great remembering sentence is pro-level baseball use only wooden bats, but metal bats are used in amateur levels. Whereas pro-level softball always uses metal bats, but wooden bats are used at amateur levels.
Bats made from composite materials are the rarest in baseball. Composite like aluminum aren’t allowed in MLB, and aluminum bats are more popular in amateur and youth leagues. Still, composite bats baseball bats are being used.
In contrast, composite bats are often the best choice for softball and the most powerful as well. Composite bats won’t get dented as aluminum bats, and they generate the most power. However, composite bats require a break-in period to warm up the bat, but the power is unmatched when properly broken in.
Some people find it annoying as composite bats that are well broken in will produce a rattling sound. There are other reasons why softball bats rattle, so if you are interested in the subject, I highly recommend checking out my article.
Lenght & Weight Differences Between Baseball and Softball Bats
There are noticeable differences in weight and length between baseball and softball bats that everyone should know. I’ll start with the length.
Baseball bats are generally 1-inch (2.54cm) shorter than softball bats, yet it depends on the age group. Also, baseball bats have more age groups when it comes to length than softball bats.
On average, baseball bats are 33 inches (84cm) long from the knob to the end of the barrel, whereas softball bats are 34 inches (86cm). However, bats for 11 years old and below are similar-sized in both sports.
The slight length difference in teen and adult bats is that the pitcher is closer to the home plate (43ft) in softball, which means that the batter has less time to determine the pitch type. A longer bat is helpful in this regard, whereas in baseball, the pitcher is further away (60ft), so a slightly shorter and heavier bat is better for this situation.
Speaking of weight, there are differences in there as well.
First off, baseball bats are heavier than softball bats in addition to the smaller size so that you can get a good punch on the baseball.
When it comes to softball bat weight, you need to look at it from two directions because slowpitch and fastpitch bats weigh different.
Slowpitch bats are heavier as the batter has more time to react to the ball, and the ball isn’t coming as fast, which requires more power from the player, not the ball. To learn more about whether you can use a fastpitch bat for slowpitch softball and their differences, feel free to glimpse my article!
In fastpitch softball, the players have far less time to react to the ball, so the bat needs to be more lightweight for the batter to swing properly. Also, the ball’s velocity is faster, meaning that the power needed for the ball to fly as far as in softball is less from the player’s end.
Take a look at the bat weights for baseball, slowpitch, and fastpitch softball.
- Baseball bat weight range: 33-36oz (0.94-1.0kg)
- Slowpitch softball weight range: 26-30oz (737-850g)
- Fastpitch softball weight range: 15-26oz (425-737g).
To get a good understanding of the length and weight difference between baseball and softball bats, I have gathered the regulation information below!
|Fastpitch Softball||24″-26″ |
If you aren’t familiar with the ”drop” means, I’ll explain it here. The drop formally called weight differential refers to the difference between the length and weight on the bat. Important thing to know is that it’s measured in inches and ounces.
The drop is shown as a minus number, which is deducted from the related inches. For example, looking at the chart above, a baseball bat for 18 years old and older is 32-34 inches long. Depending on the exact inches, the weight is dropped with minus three.
So, if a baseball bat is 34 inches long with a drop weigh of -3, it weighs 31 ounces. Similarly, a fastpitch bat for 18+ years old is between 31-34 inches with a drop weight of -10 to -8. So, if the softball bat is 31 inches long with a weight differential of -10, it weighs 21 ounces. You get the point.
Barrel & Handle Differences Between Baseball and Softball Bats
At this point, we are left with the barrel and handle differences between the bats, so buckle up as there are important differences here as well.
If you look at a baseball and a softball bat or put your palm around the barrel, you will notice that a baseball bat is thicker.
Baseball bat barrels are thicker because their sweet spot will be more optimal than a thinner barrel. As the baseball is much smaller than a softball, it is only natural that the barrel is slightly thicker, making it easier to hit the ball successfully.
In contrast, softballs are bigger, so the bat doesen’t need to be as thick to strike well. In addition, a thinner barrel doesen’t add additional weight to the bat, which isn’t wanted in fastpitch softball.
Take a look at the average baseball and softball bat thicknesses:
- Baseball bat thickness: 2-⅝ inches (6.66cm)
- Softball bat thickness: 2-¼ inches (5.71cm)
It might be clear by now that every part of the bat has differences, and so does the handle.
Baseball handles are longer and thicker than softball bats. So when you think about it, the barrels are heavier and thicker, and the handles are longer, resulting in a very powerful outcome!
Baseball handles are thicker than softball handles because of the size and weight differences of baseballs and softballs. The handle lengths for each bat are optimal for the bats and balls’ contact.
In addition, part of the reason is that men’s hands are larger on average, so baseball bat’s handles are also thicker. Although, baseball can be played by women and vise versa.
Can You Use a Softball Bat for Baseball?
After everything you just learned, you might be wondering if it is possible to use a softball bat for baseball?
You can’t use a softball bat for baseball as its features and design isn’t meant for it. Softball bats are lighter and narrow, making them prone to bending, cracking, or denting, depending on the material used. Especially using a fastpitch softball bat for baseball is a bad idea.
Slowpitch bats can be nearly as heavy as baseballs, but still, it isn’t meant for it. A baseball bat can be over twice the weight of a fastpitch softball bat, so using one for baseball would probably break it fast.
I recommend using the right bat for the right sport. However, maple wood softball bats are the best bet for baseball, yet it isn’t meant for it.
What about can you use a baseball bat for softball?
So, you shouldn’t use a softball bat for baseball, but can you use a baseball bat for softball?
Technically, you can use a baseball bat for softball as they are more dense and heavy. This makes sure that the bat won’t break when hitting a softball. However, you need to conform to the slight length, thickness, and weight distribution change.
If you aren’t a seasoned professional, the chances are that you won’t notice a drastic difference which would make it quite easy to play softball with a baseball bat.
Still, it’s good to remember that a baseball bat isn’t meant for softball after all.
My Favorite Softball Equipment
Thanks for reading this article. I hope it brought you great value that you can implement into your own life! Here are my top softball equipment recommendations that I think will take your game to the next level.
- Bat: My favorite certified fastpitch softball bat is the Easton Ghost. This bat has a double-barrel construction which is incredible if you are looking for a great feel and are a fan of satisfying pop and sound. The handle is a great bonus as it’s great to hold on to and very thin. The technology used for this bat provides great durability and flexibility. This bat comes in various styles and sizes.
- Softball: The best softballs, in my opinion, are the Franklin Sports Official Softballs. These affordable yet official featured balls are perfect for practice if you want to train with a similar ball as in a real game. These balls have the official 12-inch circumference and weight. The yellow color makes it easy to spot, and the flat seams enable minimal air resistance so that they will fly consistently and far.
- Glove: Rawlings Liberty Advanced Fastpitch Glove should be introduced to every softball player. The 12.5″ size makes it a breeze to catch and secure softballs. The glove is very comfortable as it’s made from full-grain leather, and the pull-staps will perfect the fit. The design is breathtaking as well. Be prepared for a little break-in time tho.
- Fan Equipment: If you’re a fan more than a player, you don’t want to miss Fan Equipment by Fanatics. You can find items from various sports that bear your favorite team’s logo, such as jerseys, gift ideas, or other surprising things.