Fast Pitch vs. Slow Pitch Bats

XVI Pan American Games - Day 9

Softball comes in two varieties, slow-pitch and fast-pitch. Although the basic game is the same in both instances, there are key differences. Because the pitch speed is different in each type of softball, the bats are designed slightly differently. They vary in use, weight and size. Because they differ, it is important to use the right bat for the right game.


Although fast-pitch and slow-pitch are both versions of softball, the pitching speed changes the game significantly. A slow-pitch bat is designed to hit a ball traveling around 25 mph. Fast-pitch bats are designed to hit balls traveling in excess of 80 mph. Consequently, fast-pitch bats are designed for speed and quick reaction, while slow-pitch bats are designed for slugging the ball.


According to Pennsylvania State University physicist Daniel A. Russell, fast-pitch softball bats tend to be lighter than slow-pitch bats. This is because a lighter bat allows the batter to respond more quickly to a fast-moving pitch. Fast-pitch bats range from 23 ounces to 28 ounces, while slow-pitch bats run from 26 ounces to 30 ounces. Traditionally, slow-pitch bats were even heavier, ranging from 34 ounces to 38 ounces in the 1970s and 1980s.


Slow-pitch and fast-pitch bats are almost identical in length, and there is a great deal of overlap in their size range. Slow-pitch softball bats range from 33 inches to 34 inches in length. Fast-pitch bats have a slightly wider range -- they may be slightly shorter, with a range of 32 inches to 34 inches. Both slow-pitch and fast-pitch have a narrow barrel diameter, measuring 2.25 inches.

Bat Choice

It is important to use the proper bat for the type of softball that you are playing. According to physicist Daniel A. Russell of Pennsylvania State University, it is possible to use a fast-pitch bat for slow-pitch softball, but it is not advisable. According to Russell, a lighter fast-pitch bat is likely to be damaged if you use if for slow-pitch softball. You could use a slow-pitch bat for fast-pitch softball, but this would reduce your reaction time and make it difficult to hit the ball.