These days, composite bats are being more widely used that aluminum bats or wooden bats by many teams. In fact, composite bats are considered to be some of the best softball bats in the field because they are known help batters hit better; the reason being composite bats are apparently easier to use because they are lighter and easier to control. Also, the lightness of the composite bat does not compromise hitting power. So for the benefit of the batter, the composite bat is definitely better with regard to performance. However, most teams just think about performance and not safety.
What would happen to the pitcher if the ball travels at too fast of a speed that the pitcher cannot see it coming? If that is the case, then the pitcher has to react fast to make sure he does not get hit by a batted ball. However, not all pitchers are quick enough to dodge, especially if a pitcher is up against a batter than has a good arm. So, instead of teaching the pitchers to react quickly, should we look at the bats instead? Can some bats make the ball travel slower than others?
A study by the U.S. Sports Academy states that although composite bats are better for the sake of the batter, the opposite goes for the pitcher. With a composite bat, the pitcher now has less time to react to the ball after it was hit by the batter. Because of this, there is a safety risk on the part of the pitcher. The study would tackle the reaction time a pitcher needs to react to batted ball using three different kinds of balls and composite bats.
For the purpose of this study, the bats that were used for comparison were one composite bat and one wooden bat, because these two kinds were found to be the most popular among softball players. In this study, the figures that were used to measure the risk of injury were the Batted Ball Velocity rate or the BBV and the Available Pitcher Reaction Time. The BBV is directly proportional to the chance of safety risk while the APTR is indirectly proportional to the chance of safety risk. To put it simply, the higher the BBV and the lower the APTR, the higher the chance of a safety risk.
According to the results of the study, the BBV gotten from using a wooden bat and the three kinds of softballs ranges from 78.3 miles per hour to 85 miles per hour while the APTR ranges from 0.456 seconds to 0.421 seconds. As for the composite bat, the BBV was found to be 89.2 miles per hour to 102.1 miles per hour with the APTR being 0.401 seconds to 0.350 seconds. According to the results, the BBV of a hit from a composite bat is much higher than that of a wooden bat and the APTR of a hit from a composite bat is much lower than that of a wooden bat. So with these results, we can say that because the BBV of a composite bat is higher than the BBV of a wooden bat and the APTR of a composite bat is lower than the APTR of a wooden bat. Therefore, using a composite bat poses a higher chance of injury than a wooden bat.
To explain further, we can see that the ball, being hit by a composite bat travels a max of 17.1 miles per hour faster. This means that since it is travelling faster, then the pitcher has less time to react to the ball if it is coming at him. To be exact, he has 0.401 to 0.350 seconds to react if he is facing a batter with a composite bat.
In conclusion to that, even though composite bats are known to be the best softball bats around, there is a certain safety risk that is involved in using these bats. However, there is still a lack of further studies that can really back up the safety risks of using composite bats. So for the safety of the pitchers, it is imperative that the coach makes sure that his pitchers all have very fast reflexes. That way, they can react quickly against a batted ball.