Excelle Sports’ “Faces of the Game” series—in conjunction with Wilson Sporting Goods—gives an inside look into the stories of former and current athletes, on and off the fields and courts of play.
Some people name their cars. Others name their houses. But professional softball player Emily Allard takes personification to a new level in softball, naming each of the bats that has served as a trusty companion throughout her playing career.
“I have a name for all my bats,” Allard told Excelle Sports in a phone interview. “My current bat’s name is R. Kelz and my bat in college was Trigga after Trey Songz. Those two have helped me get through life.”
And there’s only one bat the 25-year-old will endorse as name-worthy these days: her 34-inch, 24-ounce DeMarini slapper bat in the CF Series, which is customized with the Chicago Bandits’ orange, blue and black colors. Allard, who has spent the first three seasons of her National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) career with the Bandits, is a slapper who relies on her bat’s technology to do damage from the left side of the plate. Since her mission is to hit the ball on the ground and rely on her speed to carry her safely to first base, DeMarini’s slapper-specific stick makes her job significantly easier.
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“For a company to value slapping as much as Wilson and DeMarini, and create something specific to us, I think it’s huge,” said Allard, the 12th overall selection in the 2014 NPF draft. “And a company like that will not put out a bad product, so I know they spend a lot of time on the research and development side to make sure that the bat is something that they would want their brand on.”
IG | Be_TheMomentum pic.twitter.com/VebYd3haeD
— DeMarini Fastpitch (@DeMariniFP) November 1, 2016
The 2014 All-NPF performer believes the slapper bat gives her a unique advantage at the plate. With the barrel being one inch longer than that of a regular bat, DeMarini provides Allard and others like her an extra inch of surface area to work with when attempting to chop a pitch to the left side of the infield.
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Allard also cites her DeMarini bat’s weight distribution as a distinct competitive edge. Instead of most of the bat’s weight existing primarily in its barrel—which is the case for regular bats—slapper bats house weight in the handle, giving players more control to hit the ball where they want it to go. The composite in the barrel of Allard’s bat is the same as it is for every other DeMarini bat, however, so if slappers are to take a full swing, they have the same pop as regular hitters.
“There is one philosophy when it comes to hitting that I think most people can agree on: You want a bat that’s heavy enough to provide power from behind it, but light enough that it doesn’t slow down your bat speed, and that’s different for every hitter,” Allard said.
Allard shares that advice on how to choose the best bat for slapping with the youth players whom she teaches in her “Slapper Boot Camps” with former Northwestern teammate Kristin Scharkey. The pair launched the camps in 2014 as part of a business initiative called Be The Momentum that they started after providing guest instruction at a clinic organized by Bandits player Sara Moulton. Two years later, the former Wildcats now run a full-fledged slapping-instruction business that has coached nearly 500 junior players to date at approximately 15 clinics in nine different states.
“We never, ever would have imagined being in this place,” Allard said about the success she and Scharkey have reached with Be The Momentum. “There was a D1 college coach at the field this past weekend that was like, ‘Hey, you’re Emily Allard, Be the Momentum, right?’ It was so cool. It has just taken off.”
— Be The Momentum (@Be_TheMomentum) August 22, 2016
With her impressive athletic pedigree and recognizability in the softball community, Allard carries weight with the young slappers she interacts with, which is part of the reason why she often encourages them to swing a slapper bat.
“I think there is a unique advantage with the slapper bat and having that control and weight within your hands,” Allard said. “No bat is going to make up for a lack of skill, but can only help you if you have the proper size, proper weight and a barrel that you can control.”
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Allard’s best advice to young slappers? Don’t feel like you have to be perfect. With the right bat in hand and some speed in one’s feet, a young slapper can be a threat to both a pitcher and an opposing defense—and that can make up all the difference, no matter where you hit the ball.
“I think there’s a common misconception with slappers that the ball has to go to the shortstop and it has to be perfect or you won’t be safe, and we just basically tell the kids, ‘Look, you’re fast. The defense has to be perfect to get you out.’
“If you mishit a ball two feet and you’re safe, job well done to you.”
[To buy a DeMarini bat, click here]