First and foremost, the Restricted Bat League (RBL) restricts the kinds of bats used in the league in order to minimize serious injury to fielders. With new composite technologies, batted balls can now reach pitchers and infielders so quickly that some senior softball players don't have time enough to react to balls hit directly at them. While composite bats help us hit as we did when we were younger, for many of us, our gloves, mobility, and reaction times don’t allow us to field as we did when we were younger. Batted balls come off composite bats more than 130 mph. Our RBL bat restrictions reduce the speed of batted balls to more like 90 mph. That’s fast enough to stimulate good play without risking serious injury to legs, arms, and face. And since RBL players represent virtually all softball divisions in The Villages, from “grandfathered” Division 1 players through Division 4 players, we want our games to be safe, playable, and enjoyable for all who participate in the league.
The advantages of restricting the kinds of bats used in RBL go beyond safety. For instance, there are more opportunities for good defensive plays. Less time is spent running to the outfield fence. While we still have a 5-run (or 5+1 run) limit each inning (except in the seventh inning when the sky’s the limit), it happens less often in RBL, and game scores are closer. While the advantage in RBL typically goes to batters who are finesse or placement hitters, players can still reach or roll their hits to the fence with RBL bats.
Given this rationale, the following four kinds of bats are not permitted in RBL, and their use will result in an immediate game forfeit:
1. All multi-wall aluminum, steel, or composite bats (e.g., Miken double-wall composite bats)
2. All titanium bats
3. All 100% composite bats or two-piece bats with a composite barrel
4. All bats that have a BPF marking of 1.21.
By contrast, the following three kinds of bats are permitted in RBL:
1. Softball bats that are 100% wood
2. Single-piece/single-wall softball bats that are 100% aluminum or 100% steel
3. Two-piece softball bats that have a composite handle and a single-wall barrel that is 100% aluminum or 100% steel.
In addition, to be a legal bat in RBL, the bat's barrel size must be 2 ¼ inches, and the bat must be either ASA, USA, or SSUSA certified and have a BPF marking of 1.20.
While these three kinds of bats permitted in RBL can be bought or ordered online or from most sporting goods stores, the league has a special arrangement with Softball’s R Game in the Publix Shopping Center on CR 466. They stock or can order the following seven recommended bats for RBL play. All are single-wall steel or aluminum bats with a BPF marking of 1.20.
Demarini: Steel (Grey), Ultimate Weapon, or Uprising
Easton: Rival, Ronin 1 piece Alloy, Ronin Sp 1 piece ATAC Alloy, or Rebel
Bat Approval in RBL
For us in RBL, therefore, safety, quality play, and game enjoyment are paramount! To ensure these three outcomes, bats used in RBL must be examined by the league’s Bat Approval Coordinator, approved by him for use in RBL games, and bear a “Villages Softball RBL Approved Bat” sticker prior to use. Umpires are expected to check all bats before each game, and the penalty if a player hits a pitch with a bat that does not have a “Villages Softball RBL Approved Bat” sticker is ejection from the game and an out every time thereafter the ejected player is scheduled to bat during that game.