We spent 4 hours in our cage comparing the 2016 Louisville Slugger XENO PLUS Fastpitch softball bat (Ebay, Baseball Express $299) to other similar designs in the market. We received feedback from 4 different hitters—each of whom play serious competitive fastpitch softball. We then spent another 3 hours researching previous versions of the XENO on vendor sites and analyzing YouTube videos of bat performance. We also read at least a dozen online reviews that discuss the bat, albeit superficially and exchanged a few emails with Louisville Slugger’s bat team to get some clarifications.
With that data set, we concluded the 2016 XENO PLUS from Louisville Slugger is as good of a bat as you can find in the Fastpitch space and a great choice for the vast majority of players. Players like not only the large barrel and verifiable performance of the bat, but also the pedigree of success the Slugger XENO name carries with it.
The 2016 XENO PLUS, like previous year’s versions, is a balanced bat with a gigantic sweet spot and reduced vibration because of its two piece design. It continues to have the smashing sound that has made it recognizable on ball parks across America (and beyond). The 2016 Xeno will also continue to be a double walled bat where the outside and inside layer work to get the maximum allowable pop for all types of hitters.
This year’s XENO (pronounced Zee-No), when compared to the 2015 version, comes with a thinner walled outer shell. This newer composite design is referred to a PLUS Composite—hence, the XENO PLUS name. This thin walled PLUS composite gets the bat much closer to maximum performance standards straight out of the wrapper. Some hitters are claiming they need no work in period on the composite barrel for maximum performance. Our experience appeared to confirm this—although it is impossible to really tell with just one bat.
The 2016 Louisville Slugger XENO PLUS will come in a drop 8, drop 9, drop 11 and drop 12 in a 29 through 34 inch length. It has options for the widest of markets and will be legal in fastpitch softball across the country: ASA, USSSA, NSA, ISA, and ISF.
The most similar bat to the 2016 XENO PLUS is its sister bat: the 2016 Louisville Slugger LXT PLUS. Both bats are full composites with light swing weights, double walls and the hot out of the wrapper feel (because of the PLUS composite). The XENO, in comparison, is more forgiving on mishits with its vibration dampening connective piece. On the whole, Collegiate teams tend to flock more towards the LXT because of its truer feedback with vibration (it’s dampens less) while younger players tend to prefer the Slugger XENO PLUS due to how forgiving it is on mishits. If we were forced outside the brand to find a similar bat, we’d suggest, maybe, the 2016 2 Legit from Worth.
Slugger will claim the XENO is the #1 fastpitch softball bat in the market by way of usage, collegiate uptake and performance. Frankly, it’s hard to disagree with any of those claims. I don’t think anyone has walked away from some cage time with XENO and thought the bat was lacking. It sure didn’t happen under our tests.
The XENO PLUS is a verifiable yeti of a stick made for both elite players looking to get the most out of the plate appearances and some of the youngest ones simply looking to get the ball in play. We’d recommend the bat to anyone, as long as they could get the right size, looking for a top end stick (and their corresponding price) in the performance fastpitch softball space.