As important as bat speed is for baseball players, it may be even more important for
softball players. The distance from home plate to the pitcher is significantly shorter,
reducing the amount of time a player has to react. Not convinced? Jenny Finch has
pitched to about 30 big league hitters and only two have made contact. Albert Pujols,
Mike Cameron, Dimitri Young, Mike Piazza, Paul Lo Duca, and Richie Sexson have all
failed. These are/were some of the best hitters in Major League Baseball and the fact
that they didn't make contact gives you an idea of how difficult hitting a softball can be.
Becoming a better softball hitter, much like baseball, can be accomplished through
better mechanics, vision training, and of course bat speed training. Think about it this
way - If you have less time to react, you are at a great disadvantage. The easiest way to
increase reaction time is to increase your bat speed. Take two players with the same
hand-eye coordination and similar hitting abilities. Player 1 has a bat speed of 65 mph
player 2 to wait much longer on a pitch. That means they have a better chance at player
2 to wait much longer on a pitch. That means they have a better chance at making
contact and it gives them a better chance of picking up off-speed pitches.
There are players who posses great hand-eye coordination yet they always seem to hit
weak ground balls or shallow pop-ups. Often times this is a tell-tale sign of poor bat
speed. These hitters possess enough hand eye coordination that they can put the bat on
the ball; however, they have to start their swing so early that they can't differentiate
well enough between off speed pitches. So although they might get the bat on the ball,
the chances of reaching base are still slim. Take that same player and give them an
additional 10 or 15 mph in bat speed and suddenly they can sit back and wait longer on
the pitch. Now the same hitter will be hitting line drives rather than the typical weak
grounders, pop flies that they could never square up.
One of the most dominant hitters to ever player softball, Crystl Bustos, generated a bat
speed around 80 mph.