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First off, I would say paying $350+ is crazy. The Easton Mako Beast is being touted as the best on the market right now. Demarini CF Zen is pretty hot as well. They both are in the $350 range. My advise. Find a bat for 1-200 and take the other 100 for hitting lessons.
I picked up a Combat Maxum for $90. You can find these around that range. The Portent is nice as well.
You can probably find CF8 for good deals now since they are 'old' now.
Now is a great time to buy a bat. Buy last year's model. Usually the bat manufacturer just changes the paint color. Same bat. Much better price. eBay is a good option to find used bats in good condition.
I've had good luck with www.closeoutbats.com All the baseball retailers have a clearance section.
I think you first need to determine whether your player does better with an end loaded or balanced bat. If balanced is what you want, the Combat Maxums are about as good as it gets. They are a single piece composite and are hot out of the wrapper. Note, however, because they are hot, they can have a very short life span. More often than not, they will go dead (I call it broken...Combat disagrees) before the second season, if you use it a lot in the cage.
If end loaded, which usually your larger for the age players seem to like, Easton XL series bats are very good bats.
If you want balanced and want to stay in a budget, a single piece aluminum bat is still a good option at U10. They will generally dent which weakens the bat. But honestly, any more, you are looking for only one season out of these bats as you ramp up towards BBCOR bats.
My 10 year old currently swings a 2012 LS Omaha that I paid $30 for on ebay brand new. He hit .435 this fall. He also has a Boombah Cannon (best bat you didn't buy). They are actually on sale for $70 right now. All of his friends that hit with it love it. One of his buddies is getting one for Christmas. I can go on and on with bats. Go to the site below if you love reading about bats.
without a doubt if you want composite Combat is king, they were pioneers in composite and have lead the pack ever since, Nobody comes close not, easton, not demarini, not louisville , nobody, Composite is all Combat does and they do it right , best warranty in the market as well and they stand behind it
Just note that with the recent acquisition of Combat by Bauer, the warranty may get a little tricky.
Good point. I think Just Bats is a good place to buy from. They'll honor their warranties I would think.
eBay. You should be able to be very patient this time of year. If indoors come before you have the bat you want, use wood until it comes.