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Bat Standards Emerge for 2004 -- SSUSA Decides to Keep Old Standard, All Bats in '04
Nov. 20, 2003 – Senior Softball-USADALLAS, Texas ˆ There were few miracles at the highly heralded Bat Summit here on Oct. 4-5, but the seeds were sown to put an end to the bat controversy that has pummeled softball for two years.
Standards remained split, with ASA announcing its new batted-ball standard and USSSA explaining its expanded 1.20 "profiling" method of measuring bat performance. Meanwhile Senior Softball-USA(SS-USA) and ISA remained the only national organizations to retain the original 1.20 bat performance factor standard.
SS-USA, ISA and NSA all told the combined group of scientists and manufacturers that their associations were committed to working toward a single standard for all associations.
But, at least at this meeting, no single standard was adopted.
Currently, ASA has banned 12 bats (see list on Page 18), USSSA has banned only the Miken II, NSA has banned the Miken II and Easton Synergy, and both ISA and SS-USA allow use of all bats meeting the 1.20 bpf (including the Synergy and Miken II).
"We agree that a single standard is the best thing for the sport ˆ and we are dedicated to work toward that goal," said Terry Hennessy, chief executive officer of Senior Softball "However, the latest reports show that softball continues to be the safest sport in America and we in senior softball have seen no increase in serious batted-ball injuries.
"In the absence of a clear and present safety issue, we feel that it is only fair to our players to let them continue to use the bats we certified as acceptable through the 1.20 standard for the 2004 season," said Hennessy.
In a major move, however, the leaders of the national softball organization agreed to meet immediately after the Senior Softball Summit in Cypress Gardens, Florida, to discuss the bat standards and other issues of common interest.
Senior organizations have been successfully meeting at the Senior Summit since 1999, but this will mark the first Summit in several years for the Big Four organizations that represent younger players.
The Bat Summit in Dallas was set by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA) during its annual ASTM meeting, which sets new standards for sports equipment. The Summit consisted of several presentations explaining the two bat standards currently in use.
Most of the discussions and explanations centered on the new 2019 ASTM Standard, which is being adopted by ASA. The 2019 Standard measures batted-ball speed and uses a ball traveling at110-mile-per-hour at the point of impact with the bat.
The original standard ASTM #1890 is the 1.20 bpf, which has been the mainstay of most associations. The 1.20 standard uses a ball traveling at 60 mph at the point of impact.
Both the new batted-ball speed test used by ASA and the expanded 1.20 test used by USSSA and NSA measure the performance of a bat at three points along the barrel. The original 1.20 bpf test measured the bat at a pre-determined spot known as the Center of Percussion (COP).
The COP was the sweet spot on aluminum bats. However, the new composite bats were found to have sweet spots away from the traditional COP, which is why the new tests have begun bat "profiling," or testing the bat along three points on the barrel.
Using the expanded 1.20 bpf test, USSSA has not approved the Miken II, while NSA has banned both the Miken II and the Synergy.
ASA's test sets stricter standards and 12 bats have not been approved.
The reason most often cited for the new standards is the desire to come up with a test that accurately measures bat performance.
"Coming up with an effective standard is a little like trying to hit a constantly moving target," said Hennessy. "Every year manufacturers come up with new bats and often introduce new materials, making an effective common standard difficult to achieve."
In addition, there was discussion at the summit of getting the game back "in the park," by limiting bat and ball performance and, thereby, cutting back on the number of home runs.
The leaders of the main national sanctioning organizations agreed to meet on the bat and other issues of common interest immediately after the Senior Summit in January in Cypress Gardens, Florida.