In light of the upcoming holiday season, we wanted to pass along some information we have recently learned about with regards to bat regulations in case you are considering purchasing one as a gift. Starting in the 2018 baseball season (so not this upcoming season, but the following year) there will be new guidelines as to what will constitute a legal bat. Bats that are used starting in 2018 will need to be stamped 'USABat approved'. This is a standard that is not only being adopted by the PONY league that we participate in, but by numerous other youth baseball leagues nationwide. Bats bearing this stamp do not yet exist, and may not until further into the 2017 calendar year.
In order to maintain the integrity of youth baseball, the USABat standard will create wood-like performance in youth bats while allowing younger players to use light-weight bats that could not be achieved with wood bats.
AABC, AAU, Babe Ruth / Cal Ripken, Dixie, Little League, and PONY will all be affected by the USABat rule change, but USSSA will not.
The organizations that will adopt the USABat rule change will also then allow players to use a bat with either a 2 1/4 inch or 2 5/8 inch barrel diameter (as long as it bears the new USABat stamp).
All current league-approved bats can be used through December 31, 2017.
With the implementation date of 2018, bat manufacturers are allowed sufficient time to conduct necessary research, design, testing, and manufacturing of these new bats.
Bats that are regulated by the new USABat standard will be available to purchase on September 1st, 2017.
We are just learning about the rule ourselves, and will certainly share more information with you if/when it comes available. Given that no bats currently exist with this stamp, it is our understanding that, per national PONY organization rules, all currently used bats would no longer be considered legal for use in league play once this new rule takes effect in 2018.