Little League And College Baseball Bats: The Most Asked Questions

March 7, 2024
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With the wide variety of baseball bats out there, it’s no surprise that people wonder: what bats can a player use for Little League or College play? It would be a shame for players to discover their bat is not legal only when they’re about to swing, so here’s a handy guide where we answer your frequently asked questions.

1. Can you use wooden bats in Little League Baseball?

Yes! Little League rules state that bats must “be a smooth, rounded stick, and made of wood or of material and color tested and proved acceptable to the USA Baseball Bat standard (USABat)” (Little League, 2022). One-piece solid wood bats do not need a USA Baseball sticker to be used in Little Leagues. Two-piece or multi-piece bats made of either wood or other composite materials must have the USA Baseball sticker for playing approval.

Some wooden bats are experimental in design. They can be composite wood bats, bamboo bats, two-piece wood bats, bonded wood bats, or laminated wood bats. You can use them in Little Leagues if they carry a USA Baseball sticker.

Wooden bats are more expensive and harder to use than aluminum or composite bats. They have a higher swing weight and a smaller sweet spot, which makes it more difficult for players to hit the ball. Players need greater force to hit a ball with a wooden bat, making these bats problematic for young players. Wooden bats are also more prone to damage than metal bats, adding to costs as players would need to replace bats more often.

2. Can you use a BBCOR bat in Little League Baseball?

Senior League players who use bats not made of a single piece of wood must use bats that meet the Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) standard. These bats must have a silkscreen label or another permanent certification mark. BBCOR bats with the permanent certification mark are also allowed in the Intermediate (50-70) Division and Junior League Division. 

BBCOR standards measure the trampoline effect of the bat rather than the ratio of ball exit speed to bat and pitch speed. This standard is exclusively designed for composite bats and follows regulations the NCAA sets.  

When using a wooden baseball bat, the ball tends to lose a lot of energy when it comes in contact with the bat. Composite bats, however, have flexible barrels that help the ball retain some energy up contact. Because of this feature, balls hit by composite bats tend to go farther. The BBCOR standard ensures that composite bats perform closer to wooden bats to keep the game safe and fair.

3. Why do kids in Little League use aluminum bats?

Aluminum bats are popular among kids because they’re easier to swing. Depending on the brand and size, these bats can weigh at least 5 ounces less than wooden bats. As kids learn to master the sport, they don’t tire out as quickly when swinging an aluminum bat.

Aluminum bats also have bigger barrels, giving young players a more forgiving sweet spot. The harder material also increases the ball’s exit speed upon contact, and a flexible barrel adds more pop to take a ball farther in the field.

These bats are more durable and cost-effective than wooden bats and offer better balance, which is great for kids with little to learn about the diamond. Some coaches and parents might want young players to have experience swinging with wooden bats, as aluminum bats are not allowed in professional leagues.

4. Can college baseball players use wooden bats?

Yes, college baseball players can use wooden bats that follow NCAA rules. Consistently using a wooden bat early on in their training can help them get used to playing in professional leagues where only wooden bats are allowed. 

Most college players use metal bats because they’re more durable than wooden bats. It can get expensive to swing with wooden bats as they break more often, requiring frequent replacement, and they’re not significantly cheaper than metal bats. A player can use just one metal bat in their college career, so while metal bats can cost hundreds of dollars at purchase, many players don’t need to replace them.

5. Can you use composite bats in college baseball?

Composite bats can be used in college baseball if they follow NCAA standards. There have been several changes throughout NCAA history regarding bat standards. The association banned composite bats in 2009 but adopted the BBCOR standard for composite bats in 2011. 

Therefore, composite bats that meet BBCOR standards are allowed in college play. The NCAA also publishes a list of approved bats online for reference.

6. Do college baseball players use aluminum bats?

Metal bats are a popular choice among college baseball players. Most use aluminum bats for their positive features, such as light swing weight and larger sweet spots. Aluminum bats were introduced in 1975 and have been a mainstay among recreational and amateur baseball players ever since. 

Any aluminum bat that meets NCAA standards is allowed in college baseball. These bats are usually designed to feel and perform similarly to wooden bats but are sturdier and more affordable. College teams often don’t have enough funds to replace bats season after season constantly, hence the preference for more long-lasting bats.

7. How many pitches are allowed in college baseball?

Most college baseball players pitch without keeping count. But if counts are tallied, 100 pitches are allowed in a day. However, some games allow up to 120 or 130 pitches.

The number of pitches implies a restriction on a player’s playing days. If a pitcher makes 76 pitches, he must rest for three calendar days. For 50 to 75 pitches, a player needs two days of rest; for 31 to 49 pitches, one rest is sufficient.