Are Our Bats Making Our Girls Better Than They Really ARE?
Fastpitch is growing. What used to be considered a mostly West Coast sport has quickly spilled over to all parts of the United States and beyond.
Today, it is estimated that over 2 million girls under the age of 18 are playing fastpitch softball from the ages of 6 to 18. And of course, this means that things are getting more competitive by the minute.
Coaches now have access to tons of talent, and are often uprooting their ties and feelings of loyalty to specific players they have coached for years in lieu of talent. The number of websites with forums for players looking for teams, and teams looking for players is rapidly increasing. Parents are focused on looking for A-Ball, or Gold level teams with exposure to such agencies as USSSA, and ASA in the hopes of advancing their daughters skills and helping give her exposure. (NOTE….very FEW girls get softball scholarships in relation to how many girls play the game)
And as expected, the equipment that we are putting in the hands of these girls is improving too.
Space technology (Yes, space technology used for launching the space shuttle) is now being used to produce bats. Bats with more pop, more power, larger sweet spots. Few girls are carrying around aluminum bats from Wal-Mart at Saturday tournaments.
Pitchers from the age of 13, are being systematically moved back to 43 feet for safety reasons. Some leagues are outlawing composite bats.
Just like a faster car enables someone to drive faster, a bat equipped with the latest technology to explode at the moment of inertia enables a girl to hit further. Further than her true physical capability would allow her.
Personally, I find this troubling for several reasons.
One thing, is it is unsafe.
Sure, girls wear face masks and many pitchers are wearing chest protectors. There is inherent danger in softball simply because the ball itself is anything but soft. But when a 12 inch ball is flying off a bat at the speed of a golf ball – we are creating an environment where girls can get killed – not just injured. All in the interest of competition?
As an adult, I wouldn’t want to stand 43 feet away while pitching to a 16 year old girl swinging a Xeno bat that greatly expands the explosion of the ball and the bat, making it almost invisible to infielders.
Today, we have 10U teams with girls that are hitting the ball over the fence. Sure, theyre swing is smooth and level, they are hitting the top of the ball, they are using their hips, they practice hard. But they are also using bats that could double as weapons which greatly increases their ABILITY and talent.
Don’t believe it? Get that same girl to swing a generic $30 bat – and see if the ball leverages over the outfield fence? I bet you that it wont!
This is the EXACT reason that Major League baseball uses wooden bats while college players use aluminum. Because a major league baller hitting a baseball with a composite or aluminum bat could be a potential death sentence for anyone standing in the infield.
Another problem, is that many coaches are using team bats that are ROLLED! Making them even more lethal. And in routine competitions, proving that a ‘team bat’ is rolled is a difficult thing to do.
According to the law however, parents need to realize something about ‘team bats.’
If your daughter uses one – and a player gets injured – YOU ARE LIABLE should the bat be rolled. AN opposing team CAN (I have seen it happen) call the police and have a bat seized so it can be opened if they suspect a rolled bat.
Even if you didn’t know that the bat was rolled. Even if the coach is the one who put that bat in your daughters hands. YOU and the COACH can both be sued! So if you think there is something funny about a certain bat, you might want to refrain from using it.
Bottom line. Sure, fastpitch athletes are getting better. They are getting more training, and more practice. They are working harder than ever before as the popularity of this sport we love increases.
But in the interest of being the best, we are spending MILLIONS OF DOLLARS each year on the latest and greatest BATS. And these bats, can endanger our children’s welfare. Our girls arent suddenly becoming better hitters, hitting like Jessica Mendoza at the age of 13 – they are just using better equipment.
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