Softball associations like the ASA ensure fair play and safety, testing and banning illegal bats like titanium, altered, and damaged ones. Juiced bats, with modified weight distribution or shaved barrels, are also illegal. Disguised bats, painted and stamped to look legitimate, are difficult to detect.
Softball teams are typically governed by a softball association, such as the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA). These types of groups ensure that the game is played out safely and fairly. One of the ASA’s jobs is to test softball bats, and any bat that could give a team an unfair advantage or harm players is placed on a list of illegal bats. Different types of illegal softball bats include titanium bats, altered bats, and damaged bats.
Wooden baseball and softball bats were the only type available. Today, however, manufacturers make softball bats out of other materials, including aluminum, graphite, composites, and titanium. Titanium bats, first seen on the field during the 1993 season, allow players to hit the ball farther and faster. For this reason, titanium softball bats were banned and made illegal before the next season began.
The walls of titanium softball bats can be much thinner than those of other types of bats because this material is stronger. These thinner walls allow the ball to bounce off the club much faster. This can be dangerous for players, especially pitchers, who don’t expect a ball to get to them about 10 miles per hour (16 kilometers per hour) faster than it normally would. Additionally, a titanium bat can send a ball farther, potentially giving an unfair advantage to a team that can afford a more expensive bat.
Many times, softball bats will be modified to work better. These are known as juiced bats, and are also illegal softball bats. Final loading and shaving a barrel are two of the most common ways to modify a softball bat to improve its performance.
By changing the weight distribution of a softball bat, players can improve the speed at which the bat swings, which can make the ball go faster and farther. This is often known as trailing loading and can easily be done by adding weight to the tip of a club’s barrel. This is accomplished by unscrewing the end cap on the club and attaching some type of weight inside the end cap before reattaching the cap.
Shaving the inside barrel of a softball bat can also improve the bat’s performance. Making illegal softball bats using this method involves removing thin layers inside the barrel of the bat. This can be done with a metal lathe. While it helps improve a bat’s performance, a shaved bat is more likely to be injured than other bats because its walls are thinner than they should be.
Players can also disguise an illegal softball bat to make it look legal. While this doesn’t improve the performance of the bat, it does give the illusion that a player is using a legal softball bat. Some artists even offer their talent for disguising illegal softball bats online for an amazing price.
A masked bat is usually sanded and painted before adding details such as decals. Most painted softball bats even have a counterfeit certification stamp from a softball association, usually the ASA. Expertly painted bats are often very difficult to distinguish from legitimate softball bats.