You should not use performance bats in cold weather. The issue is not a cold bat but a cold ball. Cold weather, according to most manufacturers, is sub 60 degrees.
With that said, we realize that playing in sub 60 degree weather is common place. We play in the rocky mountains and hoping for a cool ocean breeze and a 70 degree game is the thing of legends.
Baseballs and Softballs, made out of leather and string, become more dense as they become more cold. More dense baseballs have less bounce and can cause more damage to a bat. Aluminum bats tend to dent, composite’s crack. This is why we prefer aluminum bats in cold weather.
Here are some cold weather and aluminum bat recommendations:
Generally speaking, we suggest a two piece hybrid bat. That includes a composite bat with an aluminum barrel. The barrel’s aluminum has less chance of catastrophic failure in the cold weather. The two piece construction gives a smoother feel on a cold night and a mishit ball.
Heavier swing weight? Check. Aluminum barrel? Check. Good transition piece to help dampen sting on a cold day? Check. The 718 is the perfect BBCOR cold weather bat. Price check: Amazon.com.
Ball flight changes when the weather is cold. Colder weather brings down both slugging percentage and Home Runs/At Bat.
Per our industry conversations, we suggest you tend towards aluminum in cold weather months (sub 55/60 degrees). Hitting an aluminum bat with a ball too dense (cold) is a possible dent. The result of a ball too dense on composite is a crack and, then, the ultimate failure of the bat.
We love this USA Bat for lots of reasons. The fact it works very well in cold weather is towards the top of the list. Is it made with a nice big aluminum barrel and a smooth transition that dampens some of the most violent of mishits. Do note, however, this bat swings heavy compared to others “drop 10” counterparts. It should be categorized as a drop 8.
For cold weather bat weight and an aluminum barrel help performance and durability. In the USA Bat space, no other bat quite captures those cold weather value like the 2018 Easton BEast X Hybrid. This is also one of our most favorite overall USA Bats. Price check: Amazon.com.
Our personal experience has shown that a 60 degree cutoff is a rather conservative figure. We have used composites in 50 degree weather and a few times in 40 degree weather. Do note, however, we were not seeing massive pitch and swing speeds. If you are seeing 90+ from the mound and are swinging close to that to match it we would guess the 60 degree cutoff is reasonable.
But, if it is more like 60mph or so from the mound with a 60 or so swing speed then going below 60, in our eyes at least, is reasonable. The manufacturers feel differently and, likely, have data to back it up. This is just our layman’s observation.
Some manufacturers do not recommend hitting with a thin walled, high-grade, aluminum bat either in sub 60-degree weather. The denser ball, they argue, creates a greater chance for the aluminum bat to dent. Others manufacturers accept the risks for aluminum bats but admit the outcome of small dents on a barrel is much more satisfactory when compared to the catastrophic results of a cracked composite bat.
For many of the same reasons we like the Beast X Hybrid in baseball, we like the Rocketech in fastpitch. That is, the bat swings heavier (a drop 9) and is made of an aluminum barrel. This helps with durability and feel on those cold weather days. Price check: Amazon.com.
For composite bats, bat breaking appears in the form of cracks. Cold weather cracks tend to be more focused at impact than manufacturer defects which often crack along a certain seam or length. But, that doesn’t mean cold weather cracks don’t look like that either.
Aluminum cold weather damage exhibits dents by hitting objects too hard for the bats rating. This type of damage is consistent with most aluminum bat problems as they rarely break. Instead, they bend.