We spent over 3 hours in our cage comparing the 2017 Louisville Slugger Xeno PLUS Fastpitch softball bat (Ebay, Amazon) to other similar designs in the market. While the 2017 models of performance fastpitch bats are still rolling out we are confident the 2017 Xeno Plus Fastpitch sits among the best in this year’s class. It was equally preferred among the best fastpitch bats we’ve seen since we began reviewing bats in 2013. We’d recommend the 2017 Xeno Plus to those who want top shelf performance at all pitch speeds, are not too concerned with budget, prefer an over-sized barrel (who doesn’t?) and want (or need) a light swinging (read: balanced) bat.
The 2017 Xeno Plus, like the Xeno bats before it, is a performance two-piece composite fast pitch softball bat with a balance point built towards the hands for a lighter feeling swing. The bat is developed with an advanced transition between barrel and handle that keeps a smooth feel on contact yet a stiff enough feel for solid hitting at all levels of pitch speed.
The Xeno’s extra long barrel is double-walled. The outer wall performs at max flex straight out of the wrapper. This means the bat has no warm up period. The inner barrel gives the bat added durability and ensures it stays legal when used by those with a very fast bat speed and/or those who see very fast pitching. The bat, of course, is legal in 1.20 USSSA, ASA, NSA, ISA and ISF fast-pitch leagues.
The 2017 XENO (pronounced, by the way, Zee-No) has a stiffer transition point than the 2016 version. In theory, a stiffer transition will give hitters better feel through contact (read: more hand sting on mishits) as well as more power when the ball is squared up nicely. We buy the more hand sting on a stiffer bat, but we aren’t quite convinced a stiffer feel actually delivers more power—especially considering most hitters don’t generate the type of bat speed required for maximum performance anyways. Regardless, the 2017 Xeno does indeed have a stiffer transition. The only other differences from 2016 to 2017 is the color up.
If you want to see how the 2016 differed from the 2015 (and there were several changes) see our 2016 XENO Plus Fast-pitch review.
The transition of a baseball or softball bat is the point where the handle and barrel are fused together. Most manufactures have their own propriety process for this. Some argue, the stiffer the transition point—meaning the less give or bend the transition point allows at contact—then more energy is transferred to the ball. Intuitively this makes sense as a more rigid rod will transfer its force more completely then one that has some flex or give. Such transfer of energy goes both ways, however. Bats with greater stiffness more often deliver painful feedback to the hands.
Our experience is most fastpitch players do not possess the bat speed, or see the requisite pitch speed, where a tightening down the bat’s transition stiffness makes a difference. If your bat speed is at elite levels then the stiffness in the transition may very well matter to you. Other than that less common case, the concept of a stiffer transition isn’t particularly compelling.
2017 Xeno Plus Fastpitch Sizing
The 2017 Xeno Plus will be sold in a drop 8, drop 9, drop 10 and drop 11. The drop 11’s shortest length is a 29 incher—making 18 ounces and the lightest of the 2017 Xeno bunch. The drop 8 will come in max 34 inch and 26 ounce—which would be the heaviest of the bunch. The 2017 Xeno Plus, like the 2016, comes in enough sizes and weight drops for just about any hitter.
All these bats are approved for ASA, USSSA, NSA, ISA, and ISF.
The most obvious comparable bat to the 2017 Xeno Plus is its predecessor in the 2016. Those comparisons and differences are discussed above. Outside of the Louisville Slugger brand the CF9 set of fastpitch bats from DeMarini get similar marks in terms of performance, price and expectations. Worth’s 2 Legit is a worthy double-walled two-piece stick with many comparable specs.
Slugger claims the 2017 Xeno, and its sister LXT Hyper, fast pitch bat are the #1 fastpitch bats in the market in terms of usage, player preference, collegiate uptake and performance. It’s not hard to make case that any of those are true. In fact, we submit the Xeno is at least tied for the #1 bat in the market in terms of usage, player preference, collegiate uptake and performance.
We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the 2017 Xeno Plus to any serious player looking for what could be the best stick in all of fast pitch softball. If they are looking for a large barrel, great performance right out of the wrapper, considerable sting dampening (and aren’t too concerned about budget as this is a top shelf bat) then we are sure they could find happiness in a well fitted and right sized 2017 Xeno Plus no matter where they find themselves in the line up. (Price Check)
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