2017 Louisville Slugger Solo 617 Review

Bat Tested:  33” BBCOR

Brand new for 2017 is the Louisville Slugger Solo 617.  The Solo takes the place of the Select series, which was a multi-piece hybrid with a composite handle and aluminum barrel.  Many players were a little shocked when Louisville Slugger didn’t include the Select in this year’s bat line.  I suspect the change was made for a couple of reasons.  While it was extremely popular with stronger collegiate hitters, the end loaded Select never took off at the high school level because it was more difficult to get through the zone.  Along with it not taking off in the market, it was also in direct competition with the Demarini Voodoo.  When Wilson acquired Louisville Slugger, it probably made sense to kill the Select in favor of the Voodoo, which is by far the most popular hybrid on the market.  

Unlike the Select, the Solo is a one piece aluminum bat with a composite end cap that provides an extremely low MOI & swing weight.  

Graphics / Cosmetics

The Solo’s graphics, along with the Prime 917 and Omaha 517, share a clean family look to keep things consistent.  It uses a white base and is complimented with gray, black, red and a hint of neon yellow color pop that carries over elements from previous years.  The handle to transition area starts with a matte black and moves into the white gloss for a little bit of texture difference.  The family look isn’t flashy, but provides a clean and classic good looking set of bats for the 2017 line.

Knob / Handle Taper / Grip

The Solo uses a pretty standard knob in terms of size and shape, something that Louisville loyalists will be used too.  It also uses a slight handle taper which is fairly stiff.  I haven’t looked for myself, but my guess is that it’s made out of rubber and can be taped / gripped over multiple times before tearing up.  This taper helps take the edge off of the knob for players that enjoy a little something extra on their bottom hand.  The biggest draw in this area of the bat is the custom Lizard Skins grip.  Lizard Skins are one of the biggest aftermarket grip suppliers in the business and for good reason.  They feel great on bare hands if you’re not a BG guy, but also interact with pine tar very well if you do wear them.  A lot of players rip stock grips off as soon as they get the bat out of the wrapper, but with a built in Lizard Skins, there won’t be any need.

Sound

The sound of the Solo on impact produces a nice loud ping that puts it in the same conversation as the Velo, which is known for its piercing sound.  If sound is your thing, the Solo won’t let you down.

Swing Weight

In our interview with Jim Earley from Louisville Slugger, he said that the Solo would be the lightest swinging one piece aluminum BBCOR bat on the market.  While that was a huge obstacle to overcome, I fully believe that they accomplished just that by using their new SL Hyper Alloy.  The Solo has an extremely low MOI & swing weight that will play well it just about any type of hitter’s hands.  Like the Velo, the Solo was super easy to swing and get the barrel through the zone.  I didn’t have a chance to try it, but in the interview Jim also said that you can swing a Solo 1 inch longer than you normally would to achieve more plate coverage while maintaining the same swing weight.  Definitely an interesting concept for those of you that want a longer stick.

Feel

With the Solo being a one piece aluminum, you will get some vibration when you make impact towards the end or the handle, but after trying both locations, I never felt like there was ever too much.  The feedback that one piece aluminum bats give off can be seen as negative or positive depending on what type of hitter you’re talking too.  A younger hitter may not want to feel anything when they hit while some high school & most college hitters actually prefer to know exactly where they made impact.

Performance

Since the Solo has such a low MOI, I wasn’t sure how it would perform in the field compared to other established BBCOR models.  After 4 or 5 swings it was evident that the Solo could not only hang with the competitors, but also exceed them in certain situations.  With low swing weight, it allowed me to have superior bat control and extra time to decide whether or not the incoming pitch was a strike.  It felt like I had a better chance of placing the ball where I intended on the field.  With the Solo, you’re giving up a little mass behind the ball in favor of greater bat speed.

Conclusion

Even though the Solo is a new bat for 2017, I think that it may catch on fast for those players looking for a light swinging one piece aluminum.  While it won’t be right for all types of hitters, especially stronger players with elite bat speed that can handle higher MOI bats, it could find itself a home with most players.  The fact that it comes in a 29/26 & 30/27 is huge as it will give younger players transitioning into BBCOR a very good bad that they should be able to handle at the plate.  If you’re a fan of the Rawlings Velo, you definitely need to give the Solo a look this year.  If you’re ready to purchase, Closeoutbats.com is a nice place to check it out.

Available Lengths / Weights

BBCOR Only :  29/26, 30/27, 31/28, 32/29, 33/30, 34/31

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