The Best Fastpitch Softball Bats in the Game

fastpitch

If you are just getting started in fastpitch softball, you need to know that players use fastpitch bats made either of composite, aluminum alloy, or a combination. The best bat for a player is the one that swings best for her. Here are some of the best fastpitch softball bats available:

#1 Bat: Louisville Slugger Xeno Plus

Want the bat many elite players choose? While some people don’t like the stiff swing, this composite bat is popular because of its:

  • Balanced swing weight.
  • Pop on contact.
  • Excellent vibration reduction.
  • Good weight for power hitters.
  • Innovative iST technology which eliminates negative feedback on mis-hit balls.
  • Power, huge sweet spot, lighter swing weight, and superior balance

Top 3 Bat Brands

These three brands are solid and reliable choices for your bat:

  • Louisville Slugger: With over 100 years of historic bat making, the Louisville Slugger bats are hard to beat. Many of them offer the best grip in the game and have a wide variety of swing weight options for a range of hitters. Additionally, this brand offers solid performance and durability.
  • DeMarini: Started on the floor of an old barn, DeMarini is a young company that focuses on perfecting their products. Their dedication to the idea that everyone should have access to professional quality softball bats has changed the sport for the better. DeMarini bats have the reputation of being balanced and solid, with a huge sweet spot and precise weight distribution.
  • Easton: Hitters have larger sweet zones because of Easton’s Thermo Composite Technology which also lowers resistance during the swing. Additionally, the 360-degree rotating handle on some Easton bats means the handle rotates as you swing. While the rotating handle can take some getting used to, it can help a player with weak spots at the plate.

Bat Brands on the Rise

  • Rawlings Quatro: The engineers at Rawlings have developed a collar for their Rawlings Quatro bat which absorbs vibrations and can deflect the sting of a hit.  They’ve also made a Vibration Dampening Technology (VDT) which limits the vibration of impact and makes a smooth feel when the bat contacts the ball. Durability may be an issue with Rawlings but their midrange price bats have a good amount of pop and excellent bat whip.
  • Mizuno Nighthawk: An innovation on the Mizuno Nighthawk is a double-wall technology with a thin polypropylene film separating two individual barrel walls.  With two barrels, the bat has a higher flex index which maximizes the swing and batted ball speeds. To keep this comfortable, Mizuno uses an elastomeric material to connect the handle and barrel which dampens vibrations on hands and improves the stiff feel of the bat. However, batters who really like the feel of a two-piece bat may still not feel it is loose enough.

Getting the right softball equipment for your young female athlete can give her the chance to play her best.  Longstreth Sporting Goods provides softball equipment that meets the unique needs of young women.  If you need help choosing a softball bat or other gear, be sure to give us a call.

Softball bags Galore! Types and Styles for 2017

softball-bags

Ready for the 2017 softball season? Whether it is going to a practice or playing a game, softball players have a lot of softball gear to bring along.  Having the right gear bag  can make it much easier for a player to keep their equipment in good condition and tote it around. All players need a bag which fits all of their gear in easily and which is comfortable for them to carry.

Top Bat Bags

Getting a new softball bag is a great way to start off the season, whether your young player is a starting playing for the first time, or has several seasons behind her.  Her confidence will increase when she brings her favorite softball bat and other equipment in one of these top softball bag types and styles of 2017:

Easton Walk-Off

Built for the diamond and wherever you need to go to play, the Easton Walk-Off is a premium sport utility backpack with:

  • Unique external helmet holder.
  • Pockets for holding 2 softball bats externally.
  • Dual zipper with 3 “J” style gear hooks.
  • Hook for hanging on dugout fence.
  • Extra space inside the bag for equipment.
  • Vented shoe compartment.
  • Pockets and storage spaces, including a laptop sleeve.

DeMarini Voodoo Rebirth

This version of the popular DeMarini backpack takes it up a level with:

  • Neoprene bat sleeves and composite waterproof material.
  • Eight color choices.
  • Customization area with removable insert.
  • Plenty of room for a helmet, gloves, cleats, and extra equipment.

Louisville Slugger Series 7 Stick Pack

The spacious storage compartment of this bag has a large opening.  In addition, the bag features:

  • 2 neoprene bat sleeves.
  • J-style fence hook.
  • Removable personalization panel.
  • Comfort padding on straps.
  • Space for a helmet with facemask.
  • Mesh pockets for water bottles.

Choosing a Catcher’s Bag

Catchers have the most equipment to carry out of anyone on the softball team and they need a specialized catchers gear bag.  Because of the weight of the equipment, catcher’s equipment bags are wheeled. Check out the top 2017 styles:

Mizuno Samurai

With easy access to the footwear compartment, the Mizuno Samurai offers convenience as well as durable off-road wheels. Furthermore, it offers:

  • Zip pouch embroidery panel.
  • Spots for 2 bats.
  • Accessory compartment for valuables.

Louisville Slugger Catch-All

With a high rise wheel chassis and rigid bottom, this bag has a stable roll. It features:

  • Internal holsters for leg guards.
  • Extra room for chest protector and other gear.
  • Lockable bat compartment.
  • Mesh helmet sack.

Easton 500C

With full bottom rails and bracketed inline wheels, the Easton offers strength and durability. This bag has:

  • Reinforced straps which stabilize load disbursement.
  • Large pockets.
  • A separate bat compartment which holds 4 bats.
  • Telescoping handle.
  • Wide-set wheels to prevent tipping over.

Whether you are in the market for a new fastpitch softball bat, catcher’s gear, or a new glove, Longstreth Sporting Goods is uniquely able to help you make the best choice. We offer a superior selection of the top choices of equipment designed with the young female player in mind. Better yet, our experience in outfitting young women players is second-to-none. Contact Longstreth for customization options on team orders of 12 or more bags.

7 Things Every Lacrosse Parent Should Know

Female lacrosse players on the sideline of a game

Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing sports, but most parents, unless they have been lacrosse athletes themselves, don’t know much about the sport and might never have watched a game before their children became players.  Here are 7 things every lacrosse parent should know:

  1. Learn about the Game

This fast-paced sport can be bewildering. Here are some things to learn:

  • The different positions and their responsibilities.
  • How the game is played
  • Foul rules

Longstreth Sporting Goods has a great selection of books – check out the 2017 US Women’s Lacrosse Rule Book or read about the history of the game in Women Play Lacrosse

  1. Don’t Talk to Officials

Everyone cringes when parents become overly critical of officials or coaches, but no one is hurt more than that parent’s child. As a matter of fact, lacrosse etiquette says that parents don’t comment on calls at all. It is out of order to say anything either good or bad to the officials and it is important to stop other parents from doing so because it can cause your team to have a penalty.

  1. Volunteer

Like most sports, lacrosse coaches can often use another set of hands and eyes to help either in practices or games. Ask your daughter’s coach if you can be a:

  • Timer
  • Scorekeeper
  • Equipment manager
  • Concessions helper
  • Film manager
  • Statistician

Getting in on the action yourself is a way to learn about the game and also a way to get to know other players and parents. Better yet, you can go back on the sidelines and help other people understand what is going on during the play.

  1. Be Positive

Any competitive sport can cause strong emotions in both players and parents but remember that, as a parent, you set a tone for your player when you communicate with the coach. Remember to speak thoughtfully, kindly, and in a positive manner to the coach, and also to your child when talking about the coach. Coaches often spend far more time coaching than they ever get compensated for, so be appreciative!

  1. Don’t Assume-Ask

Is your daughter or another child not given much play time?  Or you see a player coming off the field and you don’t know why? Don’t assume there is some prejudice against the player or imagine the coach doesn’t think she has talent. There could be other reasons a player comes off the field, such as:

  • The player has been asked to make a change on their own and hasn’t yet done it.
  • The player may have been sent in for a particular short job on the field.
  • A player may feel winded and choose to sit out a while, which is allowed.

6. Take the Long View

Did your team lose?  Take the opportunity to give your daughter some life lessons about the value of being challenged, learning to practice harder, and learning to work together as a team. Is your player disappointed by tryouts? Sympathize but also help them see what they can do to improve for next time.

  1. Know the Equipment

Making sure your daughter has the right lacrosse equipment for playing her game and practicing her skills is an important part of helping her succeed in this fast-paced game. Make sure to choose a stick that fits her height and skill level. The handle on a stick can be shortened for smaller players, as long as the full crosse is within the legal length.  Keep some lacrosse training balls handy for her to hone her skills. Make sure she has good quality cleats so that she has a strong footing in the ground and slip-ups are minimized.

Need help? The lacrosse managers at Longstreth Sporting Goods can provide you information. We specialize in outfitting female lacrosse players and are happy to answer any questions. Feeling fancy? Come in to our store and get your custom strung lacrosse heads at Longstreth!

How to Pick a Softball Glove that Fits

softball-glove

When a softball player makes an amazing diving catch in the outfield or stops a line drive, her glove makes all the difference. Outfitting a female softball player with the correct softball glove is an important part of preparing her to do her best in this exciting sport.

Is the Glove Right for Your Position?

First of all, it is important to know that a softball player’s glove choice depends on her position and that the catcher’s gear is very specialized.

  • Open web gloves: used for first base and middle infielders and some outfielders because it allows the ball to be transferred quickly to the throwing hand.
  • Closed web gloves: preferred by pitchers, third base, and some outfielders because it gives more support and shields the ball better.
  • Catcher’s mitts: used by the catcher only, it does not have separately cut fingers to prevent hand fatigue.
  • First Baseman’s Glove: similar to a catcher’s mitt but longer and with less padding, it is good for scooping up the ball and quick transfer to throwing arm.

Is the Glove the Right Size?

Since young female players tend to have smaller hands, right glove size is very important. Too large a glove can strain her hands, cause poor performance and even pain.  It is never a good idea for a young female player to use a leftover slow pitch baseball glove worn by an older brother or dad since it often is much too large for her. The best way to make sure you have the right fit in a softball glove is to try it on. Glove sizing is based on the glove measurement from wrist to index finger. Sizes vary by position:

  • First base: 13 inches
  • Second base and shortstop: 11.5-12.5 inches
  • Third base 12-12.5 inches
  • Pitcher 11.5-12 inches
  • Outfield 12-13 inches

Players should start by trying on the smallest gloves first, moving their hands and handling the ball to get a glove that feels best.

Does the Glove Fit?

Getting the best performance from a glove means being able to use the fingers and thumb optimally to catch the ball. To be able to use a full range of motion, young female players should not try to fit all five fingers in the glove all the way.  Instead, they should:

  • Put two or more of their fingers in the pinky slot of the glove, pushing all of their fingers to the outside of the glove.
  • Leave their wrist exposed.
  • Check for full wrist movement by opening and closing the glove firmly.
  • Try catching and releasing a softball.
  • Look for a glove that stays firmly on and is easy to grip and release.

Does the Glove Feel Good?

Ultimately, glove choice is very personal, so a player needs to be careful to pick the glove that fits her best, rather than being swayed by the choice of friends or how a glove looks. Longstreth Sporting Goods knows that young female softball players need equipment that suits their particular needs and specializes not only in fastpitch gloves but also other much needed gear like pitching machines and equipment bags.

Improve Your Softball Swing – How to make it Perfect

improve-your-softball-swing

Make no mistake, hitting a fastpitch softball which can be thrown at speeds topping 75 mph is not an easy feat. Having the right softball bat is an important first step. Next, fine-tuning a player’s softball swing to make contact in the sweet spot requires drills and lots of practice, like these:

Tracking Drill

One of the most important ways to improve your swing is to enhance your ability to track the ball coming toward you.  Try having a pitcher stand about 15 feet away and throw either a Frisbee or the lid of a can towards you.  Because objects like Frisbees will change direction as they fly, this drill helps you learn eye-hand coordination in tracking an object coming toward your bat.

Hit and Run!

An important part of hitting well is running when you make contact. You want to move smoothly from your swing into a run, so don’t forget to do some drills where you drop your softball bat and run toward first base.

Imagine Success

Do you have to wait your turn in practice? Use that time to train mentally. Here’s how:

  • Get into a batter’s stance with your bat.
  • Visualize the pitch coming towards you.
  • Take a swing and picture solid contact.
  • Try hitting the ball in different directions.
  • Use this technique to imagine a ball being pitched to different places (inside low, outside low, inside high, outside high, etc.)

You can use visualizing drills at home or any place you have a few minutes to practice.

One Handed Swinging

Learning how to do a compact swing is important but a regular aluminum or composite bat is too heavy, so use a plastic bat and whiffle balls to try this drill:

  • Isolate arm movement by kneeling on one knee.
  • Swing the bat using only your front arm.
  • Keep the barrel of the bat back as a whiffle ball is tossed softly about 6 inches from home plate.
  • Swing just as the ball comes over the plate.
  • Repeat using just the back arm.
  • Finish by doing both hands together.
  • Focus on keeping the barrel back until arms are almost extended and then make a powerful whip of the barrel through the ball.

Slow Swing

While batting cages and hitting drills are helpful, they don’t resemble a real-life situation. When you step up to the plate with your favorite Demarini bat at a game, you won’t be rushing through 100 or more swings.  Instead, you will:

  • Take a good swing
  • Get out of your stance
  • Relax then get ready again
  • Take another swing

Make sure that some of your practice time imitates a real game to help you not only get the perfect swing but also be able to do that swing outside of practice.

Have the Best Bat for You

The most important tip for that perfect swing?Choose the right softball bat for your weight, height, age, body type, and style of swing. Longstreth Sporting Goods specializes in making sure female athletes have the right equipment to play their best and will be happy to help you equip your female athlete with all she needs to perfect her hitting. Check out the great selection of softball equipment at Longstreth.

Buying a Softball Bat – Things You should Look for

Hitting the ball in that sweet spot is every softball player’s dream.  Developing as a hitter requires lots of practice, good coaching, and the right bat. Whether your daughter has just started playing softball, or has been building up her hitting skills for a while and is ready for a new bat to help her reach the next level, here are the things you should look for in buying a softball bat:

Picture1.png

Choosing the Best Length

Age, weight, and height determine bat length. To find the best length for a player:

  • Put the knob in the middle of her chest and stretch the bat out in front.
  • She should be able to just touch the end of the bat with the tips of her fingers.
  • If the bat goes past the fingertips, it is too long.

Choosing the Right Weight

Body style affects what weight of bat works best. A player should try swinging a bat to make sure it is comfortable. It is important not to choose a bat which is too heavy because that will make her swing at an angle. She wants a bat that gives quick, fast contact, and a good pop.  Remember that too heavy a bat will make her swing too slowly and the pitcher will beat her.  Moreover, trying to swing a heavy bat faster can cause injuries.  A good weight test? A player should hold the bat in one hand with her arm extended for 30 seconds.  If that is comfortable, the bat should work.

Choosing Materials

The two most popular types of fastpitch bats are composite and aluminum. Aluminum bats have:

  • Greater bat speed and maximized trampoline effect.
  • Easier swing weight because they tend to be lighter.
  • A more balanced feel with a more even and controllable weight distribution.
  • Durability but they can dent easily and have sweet spots that wear down.

DeMarini offers some of the most popular composite bats. Composites bats:

  • Have more “pop” when you hit the ball.
  • Can have a more targeted trampoline effect.
  • Can have a soft barrel and stiff handle to minimize sting when hitting.
  • Have larger sweet spots but may take a longer break-in time.
  • May not be best for very cold weather.

Find a wide selection of composite softball bats here.

Mistakes in Choosing

Girls can be tempted to choose a bat based on their favorite color or whether it matches their uniform.  Avoid letting color be the focus of her choice because it is the performance which matters most.  Be sure to focus on whether the bat feels right when swinging.  Another mistake some girls make is to assume that bats their friends like are the best. No one bat is really best for everyone. Try out a variety of bats to find out which performs best for her.

Choose Wisely

Getting the right bat is an important decision and Longstreth realizes that female athletes may need specialized help in choosing the right equipment. If you need help, our experts would be happy to help you choose the right equipment for your fastpitch softball player.

3 Great Professional Sports for Women – Field Hockey, Softball and Lacrosse!

professional-sports-for-women

Fortunately, many women’s sports are becoming increasingly popular to play and watch. Whether your daughter has just joined a team or is considering what she’d like to play, you might want to learn more about 3 great professional sports for women–field hockey, softball, and lacrosse.

Field Hockey

Brought to the United States in 1901, field hockey has grown as a women’s sport and is now played in over 250 colleges. This fast-paced, exciting sport resembles ice hockey but is played with a hard ball on a field of grass or turf. Players use field hockey sticks to drive the ball into a net. Rules include:

  • 11 players on each team: goalkeeper and 10 field players.
  • Only the flat side of the stick can be used to hit the ball.
  • Fouls are called for using a body part to advance the ball, hitting another player with the ball, playing dangerously or interfering with play.

Players Equipment needed for field hockey includes sticks, goggles, shinguards, mouthguards, balls, and cleats/turf shoes. Goalies also have helmets and protective gear.

Softball

The National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) is a professional softball league with six teams, each playing a 50 game schedule. In addition, close to 1,700 college softball programs are available and some players can receive scholarships to play. In softball, there are:

  • 7 inning games.
  • 11 or 12 inch balls (depending on age group) that are pitched underhand from a flat 8-foot circle 40-43 feet from the batter.
  • Bats for softball are under 34 inches and often made of a composite rather than aluminum or wood.
  • Rules that say runners can’t leave the base until the ball is pitched, but stealing and bunting are allowed.
  • Nine fielders.
  • Fields that are smaller than baseball, with 60-foot baselines.

If your daughter wants to play softball, she will need a bat suited to her height, weight, and ability. In addition, she will need other equipment for playing softball like a glove, batting helmet, cleats and other protective gear. For practice, she may want a pitching machine too.

Lacrosse

Based on a game played by indigenous Americans, lacrosse for women is equally fast-paced as the men’s game, but not as physical. Played both in colleges in the U.S. and internationally, there is a Women’s Lacrosse World Cup every four years. Women’s lacrosse is played:

  • On a field with a goal at either end.
  • With teams of 12 players, including the goalkeeper.
  • With a yellow rubber NOCSAE-stamped ball. The goal is to shoot it into the opposing team’s goal. The team with the most goals wins.
  • In two 30-minute halves.
  • By passing the ball with the sticks.
  • With players cradling the ball by moving it back and forth to prevent being checked by another player.

Because rules in women’s lacrosse prevent the play from involving as much contact as men’s games, equipment needed for women’s lacrosse is less extensive. Field players need a lacrosse stick, mouth guard, goggles, cleats, practice balls and a bag. Of course, goalkeepers need additional gear.

Whether your daughter chooses field hockey, softball or lacrosse, she can find equipment for her sport designed especially for the female athlete at Longstreth Sporting Goods. Visit us here. Excited? Just wait until you see her play!