12 Best Fastpitch Softball Gloves in 2023 (Buyers guide)
Feeling overwhelmed by all the different softball gloves available to you?
I feel your pain! There are so many options available that are built and sized differently from one another.
To help you out – we wanted to create a post that outlined the 12 best fastptich softball gloves to eliminate some of the noise and guess work in the process. We also aren’t only providing a list of the most expensive options as that would be unfair for a large percentage of the softball population.
Let’s get started!
Best Fastpitch Softball Glove right now
The best softball glove right now in 2023 when combining value and performance is the Rawlings Liberty Advanced Series. With it’s custom female patterns entrenched in the glove, more secure fit, and combined with a reasonable price – the Liberty Advanced is the ideal choice for a large majority of softball players.
As mentioned earlier, the Liberty Advanced paid close attention to what female fastpitch players look for.
For one the patterns laced on the inside of the glove are made specific to fit a female hand. This provides you with more comfort and a better feeling that you are in control at all times instead of being unsure if you are positioning yourself correctly for the catch. In addition, the Liberty Advanced comes with a high quality strap enclosure around the wrist. This pull strap system makes it easy to adjust for a players preference – whether is be tight or loose.
Many people indicate that this glove is perfect to take softball players all the way through high school and beyond. Although we only show the single model in the photo above, the Liberty Advanced also comes in different position specific options with the same quality construction. It’s a very hard task to find a glove that will keep its shape and provide the same performance year after year.
There is obviously a ton to like about this glove, but the main reason we’ve placed it in the #1 spot is due to its price. There are of course gloves that are cheaper than the Liberty, but there are also many that are much more expensive. Value wise with all of the advanced features, durability, and great reviews – we feel the Liberty Advanced won’t leave you disappointed!
Franklin Pro Flex – Budget Softball Glove
As mentioned earlier in this article – we don’t want to just provide you with the most expensive options in this list like other sites do. It is generally true that as the price goes up so does the quality, but there are some gems out there that can do a great job for those that don’t need to break the bank.
This is where the Franklin ProFlex fits in. Does it have all the bells and whistles that a $300 glove has? Of course not. But it can get the job done for many fastpitch players!
The reason why some gloves end up being described as “cheap” is due to the poor quality leather they are built with. We outline the different leather options later in this article, but the nice thing about the ProFlex model is it uses premium leather in the palm area. Anyone that has ever played baseball or softball for a while realizes how important the palm area is and how easy it can deteriorate if not made with quality material.
Although the exterior of the glove is made from slightly lower grade material, they aren’t nearly as bad as ones you typically find in this price range. The ProFlex is available in many different sizes to fit different player ages and hand lengths. At under $60 – it feels like a steal for how long it should last you!
Wilson A2000 – Expensive Option
In baseball and softball, there is one glove that rises to the top when it comes to quality and performance – the Wilson A2000. For years, this model has sat at the top of many ranking due to it’s advanced features aimed at competitive high-level players.
The fastpitch version of the A2000 is no different and is available in 11.75, 12, and 12.5 inch sizes.
One of the main features of the A2000 is its construction. Labelled as “Superskin” (you can read the origin from here), this microfiber material is much lighter that regular top of the line leather and also lasts longer. It resists moisture and sweat and is easier to clean than traditional leather you find on most other gloves. Although some may be scared of the price tag – you may want to consider how long this model could last you as well.
Another cool feature is the dimpled design in the palm area. You might not see it well from the photo above, but the reason for it is quite interesting. One thing that happens often in sports like baseball and softball is the ball ends up spinning quite a bit in the air. This dimpled palm area aims to stop (lower) the spin rate as the ball hits your glove making catches easier.
One other point to note is the A2000 does take a bit of time to break in. So make sure you don’t take this one from package to the field!
Position Specific Gloves
So far the gloves outlined above have not focused on position. Although the gloves in our first section can be used at various positions, we haven’t really picked out our best choices for infielders, outfielders, and pitchers yet.
So if you are set in your position (which normally doesn’t happen until you are a bit older), this is the section for you.
Mizuno MVP Prime – Great for the Outfield
In fastpitch outfielders tend to use a glove that is slightly longer than the average glove size. After all – the larger the glove – the more ground (or air) you should be able to reach. Think of those hard hit balls or those diving catches you might need to make. A longer glove size like that offered by the Mizuno MVP Prime is going to help you a long way in the outfield.
The MVP Prime is designed with soft leather that is helpful to players as it provides comfort and a quicker break in period. Think back to one of your first gloves as a young player. Remember how stiff it was and how hard it was to move your hand on the inside? This glove should make a big difference in that area as you’ll be able to move your hand around on the inside with more ease.
Another great aspect of this model is it really isn’t that expensive when compared to other gloves. You might worry that it might not be built with quality in mind, but you’d be wrong to make that assumption. The lacing in particular that keeps the glove together is built with the same professional level material that higher end gloves use. Therefore your glove should stick around for quite a few seasons.
If you are looking for more information, we have compiled a large list of the best softball gloves for outfielders as well.
Wilson A1000 – For Infielders (2nd and SS)
The next glove we look at – the Wilson A1000 IF12 – is just a step below the Wilson A2000 we reviewed earlier in this article. We feel it makes a perfect glove for an infielder with a special focus on 2nd base and shortstop (third base can be found further down).
Infielders normally need a glove that is a bit smaller (i.e. smaller pocket) so that they can pull the ball from their glove as quick and easily as possible. Think of the number of close calls there are in a game – every edge counts! The Wilson A1000 is available in a 12″ size, contains pro level glove patterns and features an adjustable wrist enclosure to provide infielders with a great fit out of the box.
As most of you know, the heel pad of a glove is that area that sits just above your wrist and just below the palm area of the glove. The A1000 has designed their heel pad to be thinner than others to allow for easier closure when catching a softball. This feature also helps break the glove in faster – which is one of the drawbacks of the more expensive A2000 version.
Although the price is less and this isn’t the A2000 – many people have reviewed this model to say that it holds up to the quality of the A2000.
Mizuno GMVP – Great for Third base
You might be wondering why we have a specific section for a third base glove instead of lumping it into the infielder section above. After all 3rd base is in the infield as well right?
The one major difference between a glove for 3rd base as opposed to one for 2B & SS is that normally a 3rd baseman will handle harder hits over the course of a full game. Because of this, players at 3rd base normally prefer a closed back glove as they provide more stability for these hard liners. That being said, there are plenty of 3rd base players who prefer an open back and would do fine with the Wilson A1000 above. However for the purposes of this section, we look at a closed back model.
Although we are repeating the same choice as we made for outfielders – we believe the Mizuno MVP Prime is a great choice for 3rd base fastpitch players. Like outfielders, 3rd base should also expect many hard hit liners. The MVP Prime glove features a Center Pocket design which allows the index finger to be under the pocket for better security. This will also provide a more comfortable catch which comes in handy with those aforementioned line drives!
The one drawback to this glove is that it might take a bit more time to break in. It is made with Bio Soft leather and although “soft” is in the name – it can take some adjusting to break it in to your liking. But once it is broken in – watch out!
Rawlings Heart of the Hide – Best First Base Glove
Like the Wilson A2000 reviewed earlier, the Rawlings Heart of the Hide is another premium (but expensive) choice in the glove market. If you don’t factor in cost – these are your two ideal choices – especially for competitive softball players.
Normally we wouldn’t mention an option this expensive, but players who are looking for a 1st base glove have generally decided to fully commit to playing fastpitch and at first base primarily.
First base gloves are almost a cross between catchers mitts and fielder gloves. They need to be strong like catchers mitts in order to be able to handle so many throws their way. But they also need to be less stiff and more versatile so that a first baseman can also field anything that comes their way. Sized at 13″, the Heart of the Hide is long enough to help you make those stretch plays at first with ease.
The Rawlings Heart of the Hide is made with high quality leather that provides extra strength in the finger stall areas that do not bend back when catching the ball. The last thing any player wants – especially at first base – is to have an uncomfortable feeling like their fingers are being pulled back after making a catch.
If you are familiar with the Heart of the Hide baseball series, you probably know that there is a bit of a break in period required. Although this is true for the fastpitch version as well – Rawlings does say that it should only require about a 35% player break in which is significantly quicker than the baseball versions!
Easton Professional – Best Catchers Mitt
The catcher is by far the most unique position on the softball field, therefore you can expect the glove to be unique as well! Catchers require a glove (typically referred to as a mitt) do not have finger stalls like regular gloves and are stiffer which make them harder to break in. In order to absorb the size of a softball, fastpitch catchers mitts should have a deeper pocket area.
Although there are quite a few catchers mitt models, we believe the Easton Signature Series is the ideal choice. It is a little more on the expensive side, but if you think about it, the catcher will be catching the most balls during a game so need something that lasts and keeps its shape!
One of the main benefits of this mitt is that is was designed by the great Jen Schroeder. When a professional like Jen puts her name behind a product – you know it will be special.
In particular the Signature Series does a great job at providing a catcher with as much comfort as possible. It has laceless lining and a soft liner on the back of the wrist strap to make a catcher feel good behind the plate. As you can imagine there are many hot days behind the plate and therefore being cool and comfortable is ideal.
Made with premium leather with handcrafted patterns – catchers should get a leg up on the competition with the Signature Series from Easton.
Wilson A1000 – Great for Pitchers!
The last position specific glove we look at is for the often forgotten pitcher position. Most pitchers have little concern for the durability and performance aspects of their glove, but place a great deal of emphasis on comfort. They generally don’t need to field the ball that often but do need something that will keep them comfortable for many innings. Some pitchers also prefer a mitt that hides the ball so hitters can’t tell what is coming.
For our pitcher choice, we are going with the Wilson A1000 (pitchers model). As you can see from the picture above, it features a closed web to keep your pitch selection a secret.
If you’ve never heard of welting – it is the process in which the fingers areas of a glove are stitched together. The A1000 features a “rolled dual welting” construction which ensure that the glove keeps its shape for many seasons. This is important for pitchers as they will be using their gloves for a considerable amount of time.
We’ve outlined other benefits of the A1000 in an earlier section. Simply put it provides a great amount of value as it far exceeds many players expectations at a very reasonable price tag. It would make a great compliment for any pitcher that wants to keep hitters guessing!
Youth Specific Gloves
So far in the article, we have predominately focused on gloves geared towards players above the age of 12. In other words, players that are either starting or are currently in their prime softball years like high school, and college.
But there is another important segment we haven’t discussed – the stars of tomorrow (i.e. youth players 12 and under). Generally this age range doesn’t require immediate specialization so they won’t need position specific or really expensive gloves. There are exceptions to everything however, so even if your player is in the “youth” category, they could very well be fine to go with some of the gloves discussed earlier.
For simplicity – we will focus this section on generic gloves that will fit the needs for most younger players.
Rawlings Sure Catch – Best Overall Youth Softball Glove
When we think of the best overall youth softball glove, we had to consider many things. After all, this age range is difficult as some players are much more advanced than others. The other issue is that players in this age group are still growing so purchasing a really expensive glove at this stage is not the wisest decision for 90% of the players out there.
Taking all of that into consideration, we landed on the Rawlings Sure Catch as our top youth glove choice. One of the top features from the onset is the price as it is one of the least expensive that also features so many positive reviews. This certainly is a glove that is meant for beginner players so those that have experience may unfortunately needs to look elsewhere.
So why did we choose this model? In my opinion, it has a lot of versatility in that it can be used all around the field regardless of position. As mentioned earlier, most youth players have no need to specialize and will be rotating around the field all the time. There is absolutely no need for them to have a glove that is designed specifically for a position like infield, outfield, etc.
Probably my favorite feature of this glove coincidentally shares the same name as well – i.e. the Sure Catch technology. This feature helps younger players close the glove quickly when catching the ball. I have found often times that the closing part of the catch process to be the most difficult to teach as it requires a bit of hand and wrist strength. The Rawlings Sure Catch helps players that have difficulty closing their glove so that they can enjoy catching and not feel frustrated.
There are many more aspects to like about this glove – so I suggest if you are a newer player or a parent of a young player to check it out.
Wilson A700 – Top Option for U10 & U12
The first glove we mentioned in this section was a beginner level glove. At the 10 and 12 & under levels, I find that players are starting to get more excited about the game and will start figuring out what they like about their equipment.
For those who are at that stage and feel like they are ready for the next level up, the Wilson A700 is a strong choice as it has many great features, but doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. For most players in this age range, the A700 should represent the first glove they use that is built with quality leather material. This makes the glove durable and allows it to keeps it shape for a long period of time. It also is not a position specific glove so players do not need to worry about specialization. Eventually if they like this glove they can move to the more specific A1000 and A2000 series as we’ve discussed earlier in this article.
The wrist area is also designed for the smaller hands of the U10 and U12 age group. It features a drawstring to allow you to adjust the glove specific to your players size. This provides a much better and more durable fit than Velcro enclosures.
Although the sales page indicates that the A700 is ready from day 1 – many people have commented that is does require some break in period, so that is something you should consider before purchase as well.
Louisville Slugger Diva – Ideal for 6 to 8 year olds
The last age specific glove we look at is geared towards the absolute beginners – those in 6 to 8 years old range. This age is about having fun, and absolutely no consideration on advanced glove features. That being said – if you are looking for a small glove for your tiny player then I believe the Louisville Slugger Diva would be a strong choice.
One of the first things to notice is the fun colors and patterns. In the spirit of having fun, young kids will love the look of this glove and will feel cool wearing it.
Although kids will care most about what the glove looks like, parents should be more concerned with how well it keeps them protected. Thankfully the Louisville Diva has many protective features included as well. For example, the Diva is built with Bruise-Gard padding which aims to provide enough padding in all areas so even hard hits can’t hurt the younger player. The meshed backing of the glove also provides an easier ability to close when a catch is made.
Another important feature of the Diva is its quick break in period. Breaking in a new softball glove isn’t an easy task – even at a high level. Thankfully, the Diva should require very little break in time (if any at all) to get the young player on the field.
Softball Glove Buyer’s Guide
So far we’ve looked at 12 great softball glove options that should fit most people reading this post. But what we haven’t done enough of yet is explain why we came to our conclusions in our list and what things you should look for in a glove. Let’s fix that now!
Features To Look For
Softball gloves have specific features that help players perform optimally at their chosen positions. When buying a glove, it must fit well. It should also have several other necessary components.
Features for Pitchers
Pitchers need gloves with closed webbing and deep pockets. This lets pitchers get a good grip on the ball while getting ready for the pitch. Optimal closed webbing designs include basket weave, trapeze, and modified trapeze. The basketweave has strings on the top, while the others have strings through the pocket. The basketweave keeps the ball completely undercover, while the trapeze can show a small bit of the ball. A two-piece web can also hide the ball well.
Features for Catcher’s Mitts
Catchers need a highly specific mitt. It should have ample padding and feel comfortable in the hand.
Catchers need mitts that are already broken in, so they can quickly transfer the ball and return it to the pitcher. Most catcher’s mitts have open webs that let the pitch land comfortably in them.
Catcher’s mitts have two types of webbing: half-moon and one-piece. The half-moon style has a tight pocket and plenty of flexibility. One-piece gloves have more glove leather and a smaller web that laces around the pocket.
Features of Infielder Gloves
Infielder gloves look a lot like pitcher’s gloves. They have shallow pockets so players can quickly transfer and release the ball, as the softball infield is significantly smaller than a baseball infield. Most infielders prefer to use closed webs because they can secure the catch more easily.
First Baseman’s Glove Features
First basemen are infielders, but they like to work with larger gloves. Because they primarily catch balls to make outs, they need a glove with a larger pocket. While the pocket isn’t as deep as a catcher’s mitt, the first baseman’s glove tends to be the longest of all infield gloves.
Features for Outfielder’s Gloves
Like first basemen, outfielders like gloves with deep pockets to better secure fly balls. Many outfielders also like gloves with open webbing so they can see the ball. However, some players prefer to play with closed webs because they like how supportive it is.
How Should a Glove Fit?
When shopping for a new glove, it’s important to try them on the first time. Once you know your size, you can order one online. Softball gloves should fit comfortably with a snug fit. If a glove is too loose, it could fall off when making a play on a ball with intense exit velocity.
Catcher’s mitts should have plenty of padding to avoid experiencing pain while catching fastballs. The rest of the players need to fit well so players can quickly transfer the ball from the glove to the hand to make timely throws.
Because softballs are larger than baseballs, softball players need softball gloves. Fastpitch gloves have a smaller opening and finger stalls compared to baseball gloves. Fastpitch players who try to use a baseball glove will notice they are too big.
Generally, softball position players over the age of 13 choose softball gloves between 11.75 and 13.00 inches. Catcher’s mitts are usually 31.50 to 34.50.
Infielder gloves are smaller than outfield gloves because infielders need to make speedy transfers. First base gloves tend to be the largest, usually with a 12.00 to 13.00 sizing. Outfielders often like having large pockets, but they can play with infield gloves, too.
Deciding how a glove should fit is difficult to answer as it varies between each player. We’ve provided a much deeper dive into this on our how to choose a softball glove page.
Measuring and Fitting a Softball Glove
Fitting a softball glove is relatively simple. Softball glove measurements start at the tip of the index finger and stop at the wrist, the answer in inches is the glove size. It’s better to choose a glove that fits rather than a glove that the player will grow into.
The wrist feature is also important, as softball players have different wrist sizes. Youth softball gloves have adjustable wrist straps, while competitive-level gloves might not. Look for a wrist strap that fits and offers comfort.
Some players also like to have their index fingers outside of the finger stalls. If your player likes to wear a glove this way, choose one with extra leather on the outside to support the index finger.
Types of Leather in Softball Gloves
Depending on the level of play, softball players have several choices when it comes to gloves. Manufacturers make them in a variety of sizes for youth, elite fast-pitch, and slow-pitch players.
Softball gloves are available in a variety of materials, too.
Youth level glove leather
Young players just beginning their softball journey benefit from inexpensive lightweight gloves made of synthetic materials. They might feel like leather, but they are usually soft polyurethane. They aren’t necessarily the most durable, but they help young players learn how to field a ball. Synthetic gloves are inexpensive, and they come in fun colors. The soft material does not need to be broken in.
Middle School to High School
Middle school and high school players who want lightweight and affordable leather gloves can turn to pigskin or cowhide. These soft leathers require little break-in time, so young players can use them right away. Of the leather options, they tend to be the most affordable.
Kip leather is another soft and lightweight leather with minimal break-in time. Young players appreciate the range of motion and mobility in these cowhide gloves, and parents appreciate the affordable price tag. Kip leather, pigskin, and cowhide come in several colors, and many manufacturers will customize them with embroidery, webbing styles, and colorful strings.
Competitive level glove leather
Softball players at a high competitive level prefer to have gloves made with durable, top-quality leather.
Full-grain hide leather is the standard for collegiate and professional-level gloves. These gloves need a longer break-in time, but they last longer than the lightweight models.
Softball players can also choose steerhide leather – which is the heaviest option. These gloves will last for years, and many players end up needing them restrung several times because the leather is so strong and durable. Steerhide leather takes a long time to break in, too.
Can You Use a Baseball Glove for Softball?
We’ve outlined this question in more detail on our baseball vs softball gloves page, but in general it’s a much better idea to use a softball glove when playing softball.
Softball gloves are designed to catch a ball with a circumference of twelve inches, while baseball gloves are designed to catch a ball with a circumference of nine inches. Because of the different sizes of the ball, baseball gloves are not ideal to use during softball games.
Softball players need to squeeze the ball when making a catch. If they use a baseball glove, the glove might have a pocket that is too small to close around a large softball. Occasionally, softball players choose to use outfield baseball gloves because they have a large pocket designed to catch fly balls. But, the baseball pocket is always smaller than the softball pocket. Infielders, pitchers, and catchers tend to stay away from using baseball gloves while playing softball.
If you have a young player trying softball for the first time, having properly sized equipment can make a big difference. While the young softball player might not realize the problems of using a baseball glove, catching the ball with the wrong-sized glove might make the game more difficult.
If you want to teach your child to catch a ball with a baseball glove, play catch with baseballs. Once your young player decides to commit to playing softball, she’ll be able to catch softballs with the correct equipment.
How to Take Care of a Softball glove
To extend the life of your softball glove, it’s important to understand how to care for it. Some gloves do not require any care, especially those made of synthetic materials designed for the youngest players. However, high-quality leather gloves do need special treatment. Remember that leather is skin, so you should treat it like you would your own hands and face.
Breaking In Your Glove
Before you use your softball glove, you’ll want to break it in properly. Many softball players put a softball in the pocket, then close the glove and wrap it with several rubber bands. This builds the pocket and creates some flexibility. It’s also helpful to play catch as often as possible during the break-in time, so your glove can be ready when it’s time for a real game.
During the break-in time and at all times of owning your glove, never put it in a plastic bag. The best place to store it is in the cloth bag it came in or in a pillowcase.
At the end of the season, you can store your glove the same way you broke it in, with a ball in the pocket, wrapped up, and in a soft cloth bag.
Using Oil or Conditioners
Some manufacturers recommend avoiding using any glove oils or conditioners, while others swear by it. If you do use a conditioner, apply it to the pocket and the back of the finger pads. Let it sit overnight, and wipe it off with a soft, clean, and dry cloth – like a cloth diaper.
Many people who use oils recommend the Sarna Baseball Glove oil product which I link to below. Although it says baseball on the label, it is just as effective for softball gloves. Created by baseball players, this oil aims to keep the leather in long lasting great shape and provide quicker break in periods. It certainly worth a look!
If you are uncertain about whether or not to use an oil or conditioner, visit your glove manufacturer’s website. You should be able to find out what they recommend. If you cannot, call and ask. You don’t want to damage the leather by using the wrong product on your glove.
What to Never Do With Your Glove
Of course, there will be times when you play softball in the rain, so your glove will get wet. However, water is not good for softball gloves. Never soak it in water. Never put it in a microwave or oven to dry it off. If your glove does get wet, use a soft cloth to pat it dry.
If you are ever tempted to throw your glove around the field or dugout, try your best to restrain yourself. Your glove is an important piece of equipment, and when you throw it around, you reduce its lifespan.
Final thoughts on the Best Softball Gloves
If you’ve made it this far – I congratulate you!
As you can see there are many factors and decision that go into figuring the best softball glove. Just like any “best” list, we will never get it 100% right, and there will always be players that prefer certain gloves over others.
What we do know is that there are generally a few things to watch out for including:
- Age of the player
- Position (if any) the player plays
- How long you hope to use the glove for
- How much budget do you have for a glove
- Making sure the glove you do choose is for fastpitch and not slowpitch or baseball
If you get the above right – you are already miles ahead of everyone else.
Best of luck finding the right glove – we hope this page has helped!