This week I wanted to learn about Softball bats because as you all know, I used to be a softball dummy. I am getting better though 😉
How did softball evolve? If you have read my blog of “How softball got started“, you know it was by accident, so the original softball bat was made out of a broken broom handle. You can safely say it has come a long way since. Look at all the fancy Softball bats that are available these days? You can spend as much money you want in order to get the bat you want.
ASA regulates and certifies the bats that can be used in softball tournaments. In order to be certified by ASA, the bat manufacturers have to have their bats tested by a certified ASA test facility according to their performance standards. The performance standard is based on “Batted Ball Speed” (BBS) instead of how the bat performs. In order to keep the game safe the BBS must not exceed 98 mph. How did they come up with this magic number? For those that are curious and/or mathematically inclined, here is an excellent article from Penn State University called “Explaining the 98-mph BBS Standard for ASA softball” by Dr. Daniel Russell.
Softball bats followed the same trend as Baseball bats. First there was the all wooden bats, then they evolved to aluminum bats in the 1970’s, but aluminum bats did not perform as well until they started using aluminum alloys. This is when aluminum bats started to outperform wooden bats. It makes the famous “ping” sound when the bat hits the ball. The composite bats were introduced in the 1980’s but they initially did not perform as well and did not make the popular ping sound. It wasn’t until recently in the 2000’s that composite bats made of carbon fiber and fiber glass and coated with epoxy resin started producing a bigger “sweet spot”. Sweet spot is the spot on the bat where when the ball is hit produces the best hit. Here is again is the article titled “Acoustics of baseball bats” by Dr. Russell that explains this.
Have you ever wondered what’s inside your softball bat? Well, you don’t have to wonder anymore. Here is a photo I took of a softball bat that was broken by a coaches daughter when she was in high school.
Now, here is how composite bats are made. The following slide show is pretty cool. Thanks to the author for sharing.
ASA also has a Bat tester info here which talks about the Portable Barrel compression tester. I hope this gives you some information on how the softball bats have evolved to its current form.
I will discuss more about how to pick a bat for your child in another topic.
Thanks for reading and have a great weekend.