Axe Bats—which is owned and operated by Baden Sports (the same Baden Sports who makes the basketballs you probably use)—also makes a line of slow pitch softball bats. For 2015 they make both a USSSA and a ASA approved stick with, you guessed it, the proprietary axe-shaped handle.
Those who read our Axe Avenge baseball bat review a few months ago know we think the axe-shaped handle is NOT a gimmick. In fact, for baseball, we are fans. The handle really does enhance proper swing mechanics. We found any awkwardness in the handle at first grip quickly disappears, insomuch that after just a handful of cuts with an axe handled bat, more traditional round handles suddenly feel like something is missing.
We’ve since come to grips that our affinity for Axe handled bats is derived from two aspects.
The first is the more obvious: the shape of the handle’s grip fits the contours of your hand correctly. You can see this by simply gripping your hand into a fist. You’ll notice the bottom of your palm is well below your pinky. This upward slant, from the side of the palm to the pinky, fits almost perfectly in the slanted axe handle grip. It’s like ergonomics for bats. Check that: ergoBOMBics for bats.
The second is maybe less obvious: The grip’s shape also has more volume, more girth. The increase in size of the grip gives your hand more contact directly with the handle. I’ve yet to see a player who doesn’t like his bottom hand to have more grip contact. In fact, if you’ve paid attention, most bat companies are putting grip expanders underneath the bottom of their bats these days. And few wood bat companies don’t have a bottom hand grip that expands outward. Those bats, unlike the Axe bats, don’t have an ergobombic (are we really using this?) design, but the added girth is, for most (and maybe all), a preference.
But how do those two ideas that endear us to the Axe handle translate into slow pitch softball? The answer is, unsurprisingly, very well. Our time on the diamond with the 2015 AXE ASA Slowpitch Avenge was smooth sailing. We attribute this success to three reasons:
- The grip is simply more comfortable. It creates less stress on the bottom hand so focus can be spent directly on bat speed and mechanics. There is no awkwardness in forcing your hands inside the pitch for maximum bat speed.
- There really appears to be something to one-sided hitting. If you always grip the bat the same way then you’ll always hit on the same side of the barrel. Axe thought this through and creates a barrel designed for one sided hitting. If we understand this correctly, the barrel is reinfoced with a C-shaped insert on the hitting side of the barrel which reinforces the barrel. In turn, this gives the bat a great feel on full contact.
- More control in the head of the bat gives more control on ball placement. While we do suspect that someone with enough power could use the Axe slow pitch line to bridge some softballs, we think the placement hitter will really appreciate the added control the Axe handle delivers.
Both the USSSA (red) and ASA (yellow) bats themselves are balanced and traditional two piece composites with 2 1/4 inch barrels.
We’d recommend the bats in either league for placement hitters who are up for trying something a bit different. We suspect they’ll never go back.
Those hitters looking for an end load or Senior Softball bat probably should look elsewhere and check back with Baden Sports in 2016 to see if they’ve added an ounce end load to one of these bad boys.
(Check out other Axe Bats Reviews here).