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Grease Lightning Fastpitch Academy




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QUESTION: Why do aluminum bats dent easier in cold weather?

ANSWER: Remember the old adage "Don’t keep bananas in the refrigerator". Well, we need to adopt an adage in softball: Don’t keep softballs anywhere that’s below 70 F (at least until you’re ready to play with them).

It’s now common knowledge that modern day aluminum bats tend to dent more readily when temperatures are low. However, there remains a great misconception that this is caused by the bat becoming weaker at lower temperatures. FALSE! The strength of modern day aluminum alloys used in bats is very stable over an extremely wide range of temperatures (well below 0 F). Then, what’s the deal? The deal is that ball hardness increases as temperature decreases. In fact, tests show that for every 1 F reduction in temperature below 72 F, the ball compression (hardness) increases 5 lbs. For example, a ball with compression of 500 lbs at 72 F would have a compression of 600 lbs at 52.

So, when we bat manufacturers caution against using our bats below certain temperatures, we are giving the incorrect impression that something about the bat is changing as temperature goes down. The message should be: "Don’t use this bat with softballs which have been stored below 72 F prior to the game." As you can imagine, if softballs were left in the trunk of a car overnight, and the temperature dropped to 40 F, the ball hardness the next morning would be greatly increased. Since it takes quite awhile for the balls to warm up, even if the morning temperature rose to 60 F, the balls would be substantially harder than if they had been stored overnight in a heated space (72 F).

So, the rule of thumb is: Keep the ball temperature up and watch the bat denting go down.

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