Welcome to Discuss Fastpitch

Your FREE Account is waiting to the Best Softball Community on the Web.

Register Log in

Let’s talk about "machine pitch-able" balls

Dec 11, 2010
2,465
113
IMG_2657.jpgIMG_2658.jpg
I have a three wheel pitching machine that will throw either dimple machine balls or leather cover softballs. These high quality machines are becoming more mainstream and I see them in common use more and more.

Upper left is a leather cover Worth Dream Seam. 47 COR, 375 compression. Has raised fast pitch seams.

Upper right is is a leather cover Trump slowpitch ball. 44 COR, 375 compression. Nice thing about slow pitch balls is they have low seams.

Lower left is an ATEC Hi.Per Pro leather cover machine ball. It says it is 44 COR, no compression. It is poly core. The stitches are low and made of Kevlar.

Bottom right is a Baden dimple ball. No idea of COR or compression but it is soft enough that I can push my fingers into it.

So, my machine will throw any of these and I have seen all used except the slow pitch ball. Lets discuss each and I want to know what you think.

First the Dream Seam. It's 47/375. These are generally regarded as the ball that fast pitch bats are designed to hit. Yet this is the ball that I have seen break the most bats in just a few sessions of their use. DD used to play for an org that hit these at 60 plus mph from 30 feet maybe less (Hack Junior set wide open) and they broke so many bats that they didn't want players to use their own bats. (If you are reading this and thinking I am recommending this use of a machine, I am not.)

I actually do not believe the balls caused the damage. The high velocity, added to short distance, plus an inconsistent feed of the ball into the machine plus the added movement of a high seam ball resulted in totally over matched hitters. I think that the bats being broken was from balls hit on the handle and end cap. I think that was why they were breaking bats. Opinions? What was breaking bats in your opinion?

Second- the 44/375 slow pitch ball. Is this ball softer or harder than the 47/375 fp ball or neither? It has a leather cover and low seams. We hit these all the time with me front tossing 30-35 mph and they seem to hold up well. Have not broken bats as a direct result as far as I know. Seems like this might work? Opinions?

Next is the leather cover, low seam Kevlar stitched 44 COR designed for pitching machines and therefore it seems to me that it is designed to hit. Yet we did break one bat (LXT) at about the time we were using these. It was during front toss right after hitting a couple buckets of these. When we hit these it sounds like the balls are pretty hard. The LXT in particular makes a higher pitch clink type noise. I think it may be the luck of the draw, a coincidence, but my buddy whose dd broke her bat really doesn't want to go back to them. Opinions?

Last, the Baden dimple machine ball. Unknown COR/compression. Obviously designed for hitting. The cover seems softer. Again, I can press in the cover with my fingers and I cant with any other of the listed balls. As far as I know, we have never broken a bat due to these and in the tennish years my kids have played, we have hit a ton of machine balls. We have used similar balls in team practices out of machines for years. Yet these are the balls that make everyone the most nervous. A bat expert that I hold in high regard says not to hit these. But why? Are they not softer? Are they not designed to be hit? Why would these be harder on bats than a leather cover softball?

I would love to read some thoughtful comment on this issue. Would love to hear from anyone who has tried the less conventional balls out of a machine and how it has worked for them. I'd like to hear if you think COR/Compression is relevant to this discussion.

Are there any ball options I forgot about?

I'll say this right now: any reply of "use an old bat" or "avoid pitching machines" for this discussion is a cop out.

Have at it people, lets hear what you think.
 

Attachments

Last edited:
Jul 29, 2013
2,740
113
My first suggestion is to use an older bat, or avoid pitching machines altogether! ;) ;) ;)

Good morning Ww! For HS ball we use a single wheel Jugs, we have a full size shopping cart full to the absolute top (however many dozen that is?) of those Trump Rock SP balls and they've been excellent!! There's some Trump Evil balls, some Dudley's, and some Sterlings mixed in, but 90%+ are those Trump Rocks.

Our main problem with destroying balls off the machine is foul balls making it to the parking lot on the 1B dugout side, with a machine we get a LOT of foul balls on the 1B side, and of course they're spinning like a top when they hit the asphalt, it really chews them up!

We haven't used any of the other three you listed but those Trump's have been excellent!
 
Last edited:
Jul 14, 2018
450
63
I can't really speak to the performance issues, but if I recall the bat warranties that I've read through specifically mention dimple balls. I've never heard of anyone breaking a bat on a dimple ball, but DD only uses older bats off the machine. I wouldn't want to void the warranty if something does break and I have to send it back, only to be told that the bat is ineligible for exchange because there are dimple marks on the barrel.

Could it be that the manufacturers know that a bat being used with a hitting machine is just getting a lot more use than a game-only bat, and therefore has a shorter lifespan?
 
Apr 20, 2018
1,170
83
SoCal
WW, with your high quality three wheel machine can you mimic the windmill motion and feed the machine inorder to give the hitter something to time?
 
Oct 1, 2014
1,091
63
USA
Great post and write up WW...our experience over the years is fairly similar to AD's (probably more Dudleys and Sterlings in the mix though). The dimpled ,machine balls that we've used (as far as I know) haven't been directly repsonsible for any bats breaking but...it is not unfathomable. As much as we've tried to only use newer and better condition machine balls it seems that there's always a couple of them that have been lost outside for a while and have been waterlogged, sunbaked or just aged and and hardened. Not everyone is as diligent in weeding these out of the bucket while feeding the machine. ;-)

The same can likely be said for the other balls getting used as well. At home and personal practice with DD's we use the newest (often Dream Seams) balls for pitching practice (in the early days we kept a full bucket available as they weren't always catchable). Older, more worn and beaten balls were used for hitting....of course we used older bats for that though and didn't have a machine either! ;-)
 
Jul 29, 2013
2,740
113
I did buy two Anderson bats that we kept stored with our machine, both 33", a Rocketech and a Nanotek, maybe half the girls used them, but they at least had a choice if they didn't want to use their new composite.
 
Dec 11, 2010
2,465
113
My first suggestion is to use an older bat, or avoid pitching machines altogether! ;) ;) ;)
Ha!!!! You are killin' me! I knew I'd take some heat for that, lol!

Hey I did not know that the slow pitch balls would work well with the Jugs machines. I bought a couple hundred slow pitch balls off Craigslist back when that was still a thing. They hold up for cage hitting really well. I'm currently looking for more.

It also makes me think that maybe I should buy some new ones and try them in the machine. I bet hitters would rather hit real softballs than dimples.

I can't really speak to the performance issues, but if I recall the bat warranties that I've read through specifically mention dimple balls. I've never heard of anyone breaking a bat on a dimple ball, but DD only uses older bats off the machine. I wouldn't want to void the warranty if something does break and I have to send it back, only to be told that the bat is ineligible for exchange because there are dimple marks on the barrel.

Could it be that the manufacturers know that a bat being used with a hitting machine is just getting a lot more use than a game-only bat, and therefore has a shorter lifespan?
They absolutely do. That's what I think is so strange- it's gotta be better for the bat to hit a soft dimple ball than a hard softball if both are traveling the same velocity and are in good condition, right? (@pattar is there any physics stuff that would be helpful here?) They have to be thinking of the rock hard waterlogged amusement park dimple balls, right? And maybe your last paragraph is the true reason!

WW, with your high quality three wheel machine can you mimic the windmill motion and feed the machine inorder to give the hitter something to time?
I think I agree with what you are thinking, stay with me here.

The answer about the full windmill is No- not like you can with the Jugs. And I wish I could. I am doing the “hold it up, bring it straight down, try to get it in the wheels right” feed, lol!

Full disclosure here, I just replaced my Hack Jr. with the new I-Hack on a whim. (I swore to myself I was going to hold off on posting about it until I understand it better.) It was a huge upgrade for me and part of why I did it was introductory pricing. It does SO much more than my older machine does. Here is what I have figured out so far: There is a mode where I can throw two speeds of located fast/drop balls with a change up I can locate from a realistic pitching distance. It's almost push button easy. The second mode is programmed rise and drop balls. I programmed three speeds of rise and drop each. I have to use the elevation crank to interchange between the rise or drop but it is very "do-able". It will do more than I have figured out how to use but I already can do more with it than my hitters can utilize.

Here is why I did it: The first are the benefits of randomized training vs. block training. Second: I am a big believer in simulated live arm pitching from 15-20'. (I threw 12 buckets worth at team practice yesterday). I wish I could throw full distance but I'm just not good enough. If I could do that, I would probably never use a machine. What I have been noticing is that my hitters that see me a lot and don't get much full distance moving ball training seem to be picking up the ball late. I started incorporating a little more machine to sessions but my Hack Jr. had wheels maxed out so I wasn't getting realistic speed and trajectory from the right/full distance.

So what is the cage result? Too early to tell. Have only used it a few weeks. It is very challenging for good hitters even at perfect game like speeds. . There is no arm to read. The speed is constantly changing. I can hit corners. They square up way less balls than my old Hack Jr. or a Jugs. I have to be very careful not to let then get frustrated and I do throw the same pitch repeatedly sometimes so they can have repeated success. FFS used to post that you want hitters to "see the movement not the spin". That is what I think I'm getting out of it. I tell the hitters they are facing a D1 pitcher. She isn't tipping her pitches in any way, her arm movement never changes. I try to feed consistently as possible, giving them a chance to load correctly. I have been following the machine with live arm- and they have been hitting that very well.

The dimpled ,machine balls that we've used (as far as I know) haven't been directly repsonsible for any bats breaking but...it is not unfathomable. As much as we've tried to only use newer and better condition machine balls it seems that there's always a couple of them that have been lost outside for a while and have been waterlogged, sunbaked or just aged and and hardened. Not everyone is as diligent in weeding these out of the bucket while feeding the machine. ;-)

The same can likely be said for the other balls getting used as well. At home and personal practice with DD's we use the newest (often Dream Seams) balls for pitching practice (in the early days we kept a full bucket available as they weren't always catchable). Older, more worn and beaten balls were used for hitting....of course we used older bats for that though and didn't have a machine either! ;-)
I really think being diligent like you are about what you are hitting is really the key to successfully hitting machine pitched balls.

I did buy two Anderson bats that we kept stored with our machine, both 33", a Rocketech and a Nanotek, maybe half the girls used them, but they at least had a choice if they didn't want to use their new composite.
This is a really good idea. Those old Nanoteks were surprisingly good bats.
 
Last edited:
Apr 20, 2018
1,170
83
SoCal
"There is a mode where I can throw two speeds of located fast/drop balls with a change up I can locate from a realistic pitching distance. It's almost push button easy. The second mode is programmed rise and drop balls. I programmed three speeds of rise and drop each. I have to use the elevation crank to interchange between the rise or drop but it is very "do-able". "

What is your K/9? About 18? LOL
 
Jul 29, 2013
2,740
113
Saturday night when I was writing the original post, dd and her boyfriend were here and asked what I was working on. I explained then said, "Just trying to prove to my DFP friends that I can overthink ANYTHING", lol
And you did! I’m exactly the same way, especially about things I’m passionate about!

We used those Trump SP balls for everything, cage work, tee work, front toss when me or the other coach would pitch, and for our machine, which honestly didn’t get a ton of use!

The machine I’m talking about was 100% for HS ball, I honestly can never remember one time where Anna used a machine in travel ball in 12U all the way through until she finished 18U, and I’m really thinking back!
 

Forum statistics

Threads
35,411
Messages
520,633
Members
16,506
Latest member
310
Top