For a Montana-based family that lives baseball year round, practicing indoors is just a fact of life. That meant training with traditional plastic balls was just part of the routine. Once the weather broke, that routine extended outdoors and became an ongoing source of frustration.
Lifelong baseball enthusiast, John DiBari, found that plastic balls “easily split, hurt people on impact, ding whatever they hit, and don’t provide feedback off the bat.” He also didn’t like the fact that plastic balls don’t look like real baseballs or softballs. Plastic balls also tend to get blown by the wind, making breezy practices a challenge.
That frustration led DiBari on an extensive search for batting practice and training balls that were the size and color of official baseballs, as well as safe, durable, and cost effective. Disappointed by the results of that search, DiBari opted to start a business that led to a practice baseball that met his admittedly high standards.
That business, Soft Hit, LLC, has fulfilled its mission. The result is a regulation-size, soft baseball made of polyurethane foam that closely resembles a real baseball. DiBari also produces the Soft HIT softball for softball training.
DiBari says he is pleased with the balls’ versatility. Soft HIT baseballs and softballs can be used for both indoor and outdoor training and can be used by players of all ages and abilities. In addition to using Soft HIT balls for soft toss, tee work, and live pitching, they can also be used in many pitching machines.
He adds, “One feature that players and coaches really appreciate is the raised red laces on the balls.” DiBari explains that the laces permit pitchers to throw change ups and breaking balls effectively. Hitters have the ability to see ball rotation, providing the opportunity to recognize pitch type.
DiBari’s enthusiasm is echoed by professionals in the field. Marc Hoffman, President, U.S. Baseball Academy, states: “We have been supplying our 200 camps with plastic balls for years, but we switched to Soft HIT balls. Plastic balls break over time, and the Soft HIT balls are the best option we have found for indoor hitting and fielding drills.”
DiBari is pleased with the response to Soft HIT balls and is enjoying life as Managing Partner of Soft Hit, LLC. Holding a Ph.D. in Landscape Ecology and Spatial Analysis, DiBari has shifted his professional focus from ecological consulting to operating the Soft Hit business full-time. As a life-long baseball fan and supporter, as well as periodic participant and coach, DiBari has turned a passion for baseball into a rewarding business that also involves his wife, Karen, and son 12-year-old son, Eli.
Soft HIT practice baseballs and softballs are sold online at www.SoftHitSports.com and through various sporting goods retailers across the U.S.
Soft HIT is a trademark of Soft Hit, LLC.