As someone who participates in softball either in a league or with friends and family, it can be frustrating when you run out of balls. It’s advisable to have extra balls on hand, which is why it’s essential to know which softballs are the best in 2023. While all softballs may appear similar to someone with limited knowledge of the sport, it’s crucial to consider certain factors such as size, COR, and compression to ensure that you obtain high-quality balls. To aid in your decision-making process, we’ve compiled a list of our top picks for the year. Our team has carefully selected these options based on their impressive size, excellent compression, and optimal COR measurements.
Decker Red Shark SuperGrip Softball – Consider
Players love the Decker Red Big Shark, a slow pitch softball with a .52 COR rating and 300 pounds of compression. Its remarkable durability is one of the main reasons why it’s a favorite among players. The ball’s outer cover is made of a synthetic “super grip” material that can withstand the constant hitting during games and practice. Regardless of the temperature or weather conditions, the Decker Red Big Shark is built to last, enduring scorching heat and humid environments while providing excellent pop for batters.
Rawlings 12-Inch Fastpitch Softball
For fastpitch softball players at the ASA and high school levels, the Rawlings Official DREAM SEAM Fastpitch Softballs are an excellent option. These softballs feature Rawlings’ patented dream seam technology and are made of high-density cork, providing consistent performance and durability at a lower cost. The leather cover with raised seams makes it easy to grip and throw, enabling pitchers to achieve even greater movement on their pitches. This competition-grade softball comes in a box of 12 C12RYLAH balls and is approved for use in ASA softball leagues. It is 12 inches in size with a .47 COR, 375 mph compression, yellow cover, 88 red stitch, and a high-density cork core. We appreciate the ball’s durability, consistency, and affordability, as well as its approval for use in ASA softball leagues.
Franklin Sports Practice Softballs
These practice softballs from Franklin Sports are designed for slowpitch and feature a 12″ size and natural cork core material. The set comes with four balls and has received excellent ratings and reviews. I highly recommend opting for the four-ball set as it provides better value for money compared to purchasing individual balls. These softballs are ideal for practice purposes due to their natural cork core, which is softer than kapok or polyurethane, providing both safety and ball speed. The standard red stitching is present on the balls, which is customary for slowpitch, and the balls have a synthetic syntax cover, ensuring durability.
MACGREGOR Fast Pitch Softball – Runner-Up
This pack of 12 softballs is an ideal choice for anyone looking to play fast-pitch softball, as they are approved by the ASA. They feature a poly graphite center and a leather cover, and come in a circumference of either 11 or 12 inches, allowing for a customized feel. The bright yellow color makes them easy to spot, while the solid and secure stitching provides an excellent grip, especially for pitchers. The poly graphite center ensures towering homers and hard line drives, and the solid leather cover guarantees exceptional durability. These softballs have a .47 COR and maximum compression of 375lbs, providing solid pop off the bat, even for beginners. While the bright yellow cover is a pro, the leather cover is slightly thin and can scuff easily, which is the only con to this product. Overall, this set is perfect for amateur league games or tournament play and provides plenty of balls to last you through multiple games.
Jugs 12-Inch Softball – Also Consider
Image credit: Amazon Key Features 12 lightweight softballs Designed for use with JUGS Lite-Flite machine Available in 11-inch and 12-inch sizes If you own a JUGS Lite-Flite machine, these softballs are an excellent choice for practicing your batting skills. They are specifically designed to be used with the machine, making them compatible for players of all ages. These softballs are regulation size, so you can practice as if you were in a real game. The sponge-like texture of these softballs makes them safe for indoor play, even without a batting cage. Despite being lightweight, they perform well at regulation pitching distances. Additionally, they don’t sting players upon impact, making them ideal for both offensive and defensive drills. With 12 balls included in this package, you’ll have plenty of softballs to practice with. You can choose between the 11-inch and 12-inch variants, depending on your preference. However, due to their lightweight design, these softballs may not be the best option for catching practice, as they may pop off the glove more easily, making them more challenging to catch. PROS Sponge-like texture is safe for indoor play Great for offensive and defensive practice Lightweight design is ideal for hand-eye coordination training CONS May pop off the glove more easily due to their lightweight design, making them more difficult to catch.
Buying guide forBEST SOFTBALLS
While softballs may all appear the same with their unmistakable bright yellow color, there are significant differences among them that are important to consider. Depending on the type of softball game, league rules, and age limits, you will need a specific type of softball. Choosing the wrong type of softball could result in a waste of money. BestReviews can assist you in finding the appropriate softball to meet your game play or practice needs. You can find our top softball picks in the product list above and additional helpful information in our shopping guide below.
When it comes to softball features, size is a crucial factor to consider. The circumference of the softball determines its size. The smallest softball size is 11 inches, typically used by players who are nine years old or younger because it fits their hands better. Some mixed co-ed slow-pitch softball leagues use 11-inch balls when a woman or girl is batting, allowing for more distance off the bat. The most common size softball for both fast- and slow-pitch games is 12 inches. Fast-pitch youth players will begin using a 12-inch ball around age ten. Some co-ed slow-pitch leagues use a 12-inch softball when men or boys bat and an 11-inch ball when women or girls bat. A 14-inch softball is considered more of a recreational size and is used by certain slow-pitch leagues. It doesn’t travel as far or as fast off the bat as a smaller softball, making the game safer. Some senior and wheelchair slow-pitch softball leagues use a 16-inch softball, which is slower off the bat and makes the game even safer. However, certain leagues and softball game styles that use a 16-inch ball do not allow players to wear fielding gloves.
Softball materials are another important consideration. Understanding how softballs are made and the materials they contain can help you choose the right softball for your needs. Softball covers are typically made of natural or synthetic leather. A natural leather cover generally lasts longer than a synthetic cover and offers a surer grip, especially in wet conditions. However, you can save money by purchasing softballs with synthetic leather covers. Seams may not be visible, but they are important. Some seams are raised above the cover of the ball, allowing for a surer grip and making it easier to spin the ball when pitching. Others lie flat on the cover, and some use red stitching while others use blue. It’s important to understand which types of seams your league allows before purchasing softballs. The core is the part of the softball that is not visible and may consist of different materials, such as polyurethane, cork, and/or rubber. Different types of cores result in varying COR and compression ratings.
Q. How do I know when it’s time to replace a softball?
A. Most softballs can last for dozens of bat strikes without suffering any damage. But when you see nicks in the ball cover, it’s time to replace the softball. Some of the holes for the seams may expand in size as a softball wears out, or the seam thread may break or pull loose. Cheaply made softballs can develop dents or become misshapen after multiple games or practice sessions.
Q. Can I use any type of softball for my games?
A. Different types of softball games require specific types of softballs. If you try to use the wrong type of softball in your game, the umpire will remove it from play. Your softball league and its governing body should tell you the specifications your softball must meet for game play. These specifications are printed clearly on the softball, so they’re easy to understand.
Q. Why are softballs larger than baseballs?
A. With the larger size, players aren’t able to throw the softball as fast as they can throw a baseball. The exit velocity of the softball off the bat will be less than that of a baseball because of its larger size, too. Because of the smaller dimensions of the softball playing field, a slower, larger ball is safer.
Q. Why are softballs colored bright yellow?
A. Softballs haven’t always been yellow. Once the NCAA adopted bright yellow for its official softballs in 2002, yellow became the preferred color at all playing levels. Using a bright yellow ball is designed to help the batter and fielders see the ball more easily. Because the softball field dimensions are smaller than those of a baseball field, players have less reaction time, so a ball that’s easier to see is preferable.