In this article, we’re taking a closer look at the best softball gloves of the year.An essential part of any softball player’s arsenal is a broken-in glove that fits well. We take a look at some of the best gloves for softball players and for simplicity’s sake we divide them into youth, slowpitch, and fastpitch categories.
Whether you’re in on the ole company’s softball league or battling it out in competitive fastpitch softball, there’s a right mitt for everyone. Finding the best softball glove for you isn’t always an easy task. Break-in time, back, wrist adjustment, webbing, and material are some of the top factors worth considering before you make a final purchase decision. If you’re looking for baseball gloves check out this guide (some of the larger baseball gloves work fine for slowpitch softball leagues too).
- 1 What’s Here
- 2 Comparison Tables: 20 Best Softball Gloves of 2018
- 3 9 Best Fastpitch Softball Gloves and Catchers Mitts Comparison Table
- 4 7 Best Slowpitch Softball Gloves Comparison Table
- 5 4 Best Youth Softball Gloves Comparison Table
- 6 Softball Glove Guide Part I: How to Select the Ideal Softball Glove
- 7 Softball Glove Guide Part II: Glove Design by Position
- 8 Review Section I: The Best Softball Gloves for Fastpitch
- 9 Review Section II: The Best Softball Gloves for Slowpitch
- 10 Review Section III: The Best Softball Gloves for Youth Players
In this equipment guide, Dugout Debate covers all the bases: the most important things to look for in a softball glove, why there are unique designs for different positions, the most popular glove brands, and lastly our softball glove reviews section.
Comparison Tables: 20 Best Softball Gloves of 2018
Here are the top 20 softball gloves currently on the market. The gloves in these charts are sorted by price ascending. In the “Type” column, you’ll find a quick description of each glove. To learn more, see our review sections below which reflect the same order.
We have them sorted into three different tables, the Best Fastpitch Softball Gloves, the Best Slowpitch Softball Gloves, and the Best Youth Softball Gloves.
9 Best Fastpitch Softball Gloves and Catchers Mitts Comparison Table
|Louisville Slugger Xeno First Base Mitts||Fastpitch; First Base; Dual Post Web; Closed Back||13 Inches|
|Akadema Fastpitch Series||Fastpitch ; Closed Web ; Open Back||13 Inches|
|Louisville Slugger American Crafted Icon Fastpitch Glove||Fastpitch; Closed Web; Open Back||12.75 Inches|
|Wilson A2000 Fastpitch Series||Fastpitch ; Open Web ; Open Back||12, 12.75 Inches|
|Nokona Walnut Leather||Fastpitch ; Closed Web ; Closed Back||12.5 Inches|
|Nokona X2 Buckaroo Series||Fastpitch ; Closed Web ; Closed Back||12.5, 13 Inches|
|Rawlings Renegade Series Catchers Mitt||Fastpitch; Catchers Mitt; Half-Moon Closed Web; Open Back||31.5, 32.5 Inches|
|Easton Synergy Elite Fastpitch Series Catcher's Mitt||Fastpitch; Catchers; Half-Moon Closed Web; Closed Back||33 Inches|
|Rawlings Liberty Advanced Series||Fastpitch; Catchers Mitt; Half-Moon Open Web; Open Back||33, 34 Inches|
7 Best Slowpitch Softball Gloves Comparison Table
|Mizuno Premier Series||Slowpitch ; Open Web ; Closed Back||12, 12.5, 13, 14 Inches|
|Worth Century Series Softball Glove||Slowpitch; Open-Closed Web; Open Back||12 Inches|
|Mizuno 2017 Franchise 14" Slow Pitch Softball Glove||Slowpitch; Closed Web; Closed Back||14 Inches|
|Easton Salvo Elite||Slowpitch ; Open Web ; Open Back||13, 13.5, 14 Inches|
|Miken Koalition (KO) Series||Slowpitch ; Open Trap Web ; Open Back||12.5, 13, 13.5, 14 Inches|
|DeMarini Diablo Series||Slowpitch ; Closed Web ; Closed Back||13, 14 Inches|
|Wilson A360 Series||Slowpitch ; Closed Web ; Closed Back||14 Inches|
4 Best Youth Softball Gloves Comparison Table
|Louisville Slugger Diva||Youth ; Closed Web ; Closed Back||11 inches|
|Easton Z-Flex Youth Series||Youth ; Closed Web ; Open Back||10, 11, 11.5, 12 inches|
|Wilson Flash Series||Youth ; Closed Web ; Open Back||12 inches|
|Mizuno Prospect||Youth ; Closed Web ; Closed Back||12.5 inches|
Softball Glove Guide Part I: How to Select the Ideal Softball Glove
Whether you’re looking for an expensive top grade leather mitt or a less costly synthetic, it’s a good idea to find a glove designed for your position and—at a bare minimum—won’t fall apart mid-way through the season.
Here are the most important glove basics to keep in mind when shopping for a new glove. Keep in mind that left hand throw (LFT) gloves are worn on the right hand since the player is throwing with their left hand. RFT gloves are worn on the left hand. Most glove manufacturers will offer their models in both versions for righties and lefties.
Typically the type of material used and the price point goes hand-in-hand. Top grade leather such as full grain commands a premium. Leather gloves are great because they conform to the player’s hand and last a long time. They take time to break-in, but leather gloves are like a fine wine, they get better with age. Synthetic gloves are less expensive and an excellent choice for beginners who may be trying out the sport as well as casual players who aren’t too competitive.
Perhaps the most important feature of all is the size of the glove itself. The size of gloves are measured in inches from the tip of the index finger slot to the end of the glove that rests on the wrist (referred to as the heel). The measuring technique is different for catcher’s gloves. The circumference rather than the length is measured to better display the catching area of the glove.
With either glove type, you want a solid match between your hand size and glove to make it easy to manipulate open and close. A well-fitting glove makes for a secure pocket to hold the ball when fielding and catching. Too loose and your hand will move around in the mitt making life hard on defensive innings.
The web is the major defining element of gloves and is the term used for the catching area of the glove also known as the “pocket.” Glove manufacturers and have come up with all sorts of fancy webbing designs, but they all really fall into two main categories. The first category is the open web mitt that oftentimes incorporates an “I” or “H” design with pieces of leather woven to the rest of the mitt with leather lacing.
Generally infielders prefer this type of glove because it aids in quick ball transfer. The other category is closed web mitts that are all one solid piece across, providing the player with a more rigid catching area. Most players prefer an open back to help them track the ball all the way into the mitt. Pitchers will often use a closed web design to shield their grips from the opposing team.
Much like the webbing, the backing of the mitt is either closed or open. An open glove will expose the top of your wrist and provides a little larger range of movement. This is usually favored by infielders. Outfielders usually lean towards closed back gloves because they offer more wrist support for those laser beam line drives. Sometimes closed back gloves will feature a finger slot for the index finger that some players prefer.
The wrist adjustment definitely comes down to personal preference. Most glove manufacturers either opt for a Velcro or D-Ring for their wrist adjustment design. A few gloves feature a lace-up or buckle wrist adjuster. Velcro is the fastest and easiest way to make adjustments. D-Rings don’t wear down like Velcro but require a bit more hassle to re-adjust the fit.
Most the time manufacturers will list the factory and player break-in on the list of product details. The bottom line is you don’t want to run out on the field the day after you purchase a 100% player break-in glove because it’s going to be hell trying to field balls with an ultra-stiff glove. A wicked bouncer is likely to bounce right off the glove and pop you right in the face. A general rule of thumb is the higher the grade of leather, the stiffer the glove will be. For a brand new high-grade leather glove, it’s a good idea to use glove oil and play some catch before game day.
Softball Glove Guide Part II: Glove Design by Position
Gloves are designed differently to perform better in specific positions.
Infielder’s gloves are designed to allow players to make quick transfers from fielding to throwing hand, to delivery. The only exception is gloves designed for first base, which you can check out in our section below. They feature a shallower pocket area and are shorter than other gloves.
The webbing composing the pocket usually incorporates an I-web, H-web, post web or modified Trap-eze pocket. Generally, the only position that will sometimes opt for a closed web is the third base because they are more likely to receive harder hits which a closed pocket handles better than an open one. The typical standard for softball infield gloves in 11.5 to 12.5 inches.
A side note for pitchers: There are gloves specially designed for pitchers that are significantly lighter than standard gloves. Pitchers are normally not as concerned about performance as other infield positions. For this reason, their main concern is the comfort, as they will be catching the return balls from the catcher. At competitive levels, pitchers opt for a closed web to hide their pitches from the prying eyes of the opposing team’s batter and coaches.
Outfielder’s gloves are designed to reel in high flying balls, line drives, the occasional miraculous diving catch, and in-the-hole grounders. These gloves are longer and have deeper finger slots for an oversized pocket. The main web designs are trapeze and H-web, providing a gap for the player to track the ball while still retaining most of its ability to block the sun.
In softball, closed webs are more commonly seen in the outfield to account for the size of the softball. The fingers are reinforced to help keep the ball in the glove when making diving plays. Softball outfield gloves usually fall between 12 and 14 inches.
First Base Gloves
These look like a hybrid of a fielder and catcher’s mitt. Very similar to the catcher’s mitt, the first base glove had a little extra padding to handle throws with some heat on them. These gloves are longer than a catcher’s mitt and infielder’s mitt however, to help the first player extend and rein in wild catches. They are also built to be stronger than the average mitt, so the fingers do not flop back.
Players usually start using these special gloves at the age of 12 and older because it is difficult for smaller hands to close the bigger glove. The size of these gloves range from 12 up to 14 inches for softball.
Catcher’s gloves are an entirely different breed of glove. The distinguishing characteristic is that they do not have separately cut finger slots like other positions. They also incorporate padding to take an all game beating of fast pitches without hurting the catcher’s hand. Catcher’s mitts are very stiff off the shelf because of the extra material used to construct them.
Many times, catchers will buy a new mitt months before they plan to ditch the old one to allow the mitt time to break-in during practice. Practically all catchers’ mitts feature a closed web pocket area to provide a firm, unyielding wall to rein in throws coming from the pitcher. Catcher’s mitts range from 31.5 to 35 inches in circumference for softball players which are slightly larger than baseball catcher’s mitts (about 1 inch) to compensate for the larger softball.
Just below you can see a chart that will help you pick out the right size for your hand. This chart breaks things down by position and age making it easy as pie to find the best fit.
Review Section I: The Best Softball Gloves for Fastpitch
Here are the top softball gloves for fastpitch. Further down the page you’ll find the best slow pitch and youth softball gloves. If you’re on the hunt for a burly catcher’s mitt, skip to the catcher’s mitt part of the review section further down the page.
Fastpitch and slowpitch gloves are nearly identical in size and characteristics. However, in slowpitch softball the catcher doesn’t really need a specially designed catcher’s mitt because the pitches are slower and stealing usually isn’t allowed. If a glove is labeled a “fastpitch softball glove” or “slowpitch softball glove” by a manufacturer it is generally done for marketing purposes.
The Louisville Slugger Xeno Softball First Base Mitt is a great choice for first base players. The wrist lining is made from soft pigskin lining. It measures 13 inches in length making it ideal for stretching to beat out those super-fast base runners. This glove is pre-treated with oil allowing you to quickly break it in and be ready for game day.
Another mid-ranged fastpitch series glove comes from Akadema. This glove features a B-hive web and open back. It’s got a deep pocket, ideal for infielders and less experienced players. Consumers particularly love this glove because of it’s longevity.
Louisville also offers an infielder’s glove that we love, made from top grade American cowhide, specifically designed to fit well around female hands. The lacing is also made from cowhide, and the whole glove is handcrafted in the US.
The 12.75 Model of the Wilson A2000, is ideal for fastpitch softball. It’s on the spendier side, which also means that it’s made from Pro Stock Leather combined with a material they’ve dubbed “Superskin.” It’s available for both right and left handed throwers.
The Nokona Walnut Softball Glove is another gorgeous fastpitch glove from Nokona that is slightly less expensive than the Buckaroo Series and nearly the same quality. It features a 13″ closed web and open back design. The leather and shearling is comfortable and flexible, and will break-in nicely.
The Nokona Fastpitch Buckaroo Softball Glove is easily one of the best (if not the best) fastpitch fielder gloves money can buy. The price tag is a shocker but considering that it uses Nokona’s proprietary Kangaroo leather, Steerhide, and composite padding materials it becomes more acceptable. Nokona claims it has the quickest break-in period of the premium glove market. It features a closed back, closed web design and comes in 12 and 12.5 inch inch sizes.
Best Fastpitch Catcher’s Mitts
For the brick walls playing the catcher position, there are a few highly rated options as well. In this section we’ve got the best of the best from fastpitch catcher’s mitts.
The Renegade Catchers mitt is an all leather shelled glove, designed for catchers to give the best protection. It comes 80% broken in straight from the factory. This series from Rawlings is made with comfort in mind, and is ideal for beginners.
Another great cowhide leather catchers mitt comes from Easton. It’s Deer Tanned for ultimate grip and comfort. The elite version of this glove is made with oiled hog hide palm lining, a lock down wrist strap, and shock absorbing padding. Right now it’s available in 33″ sizing.
Rawlings Liberty Advanced softball glove series comes in just about every specialized position on the field. All of them are made with only the highest quality materials. The catchers mitt comes in both 33″ and 34″ sizes. The leather shell is oil treated, so it’s ready for your 20% break-in effort.
Review Section II: The Best Softball Gloves for Slowpitch
If you have a left over glove from baseball that’ll work just fine for a casual league. More competitive leagues you may want to consider getting a mitt designed for softball, which is generally going to be about one half inch to a full inch longer to handle the larger ball.
If you’re looking for an adult infield or utility slowpitch or fastpitch softball glove, the Mizuno premier is a great affordable option. It’s made with a full grain leather shell and synthetic power lock. The lining in the palm is buttery soft. The mesh inserts help protect your wrist and hand without adding extra weight.
The Worth Century Series Slowpitch Glove is a great all around glove for slow pitch softball. The all leather black and tan construction, black leather lacings, and custom fit adjustable wrist back has made this glove one of the most popular on the softball fields. The oversized pocket pattern is great for fielding softballs and the leather makes this a defensive player’s companion that will last.
Mizuno Franchise Series is a classic softball glove. The Java leather is pre-oiled and timbled. This series edition is 14″. You’ll have a great grip and an easy break-in with this tartan H web and closed back gives you a single finger fastback design with comfort and quick release.
The Easton Salvo Elite uses a basket web design made from steerhide leather. It’s got great palm padding, with a lock down adjustable velcro wrist strap. It comes in a 13″ and 13.5″ models.
Miken KO makes a super lightweight and comfortable slowpitch glove that will come to you game ready. Even though it is full-grain leather, it’s soft and easy to use right out of the box. The laces are also leather, with great comfort palm pads.
Another solid option comes from DeMarini, it’s the Diablo Slow Pitch glove. Featuring a 14″ spread, and made from ECCO leather. The palm is designed to let you feel the ball without feeling the pain. It’s also pretty affordable for a leather softball glove.
The Wilson A360 Slowpitch Softball Glove is the big dog fielder’s glove of softpitch softball. Wilson claims “If you can’t get leather on the ball with this, it’s not catchable.” It’s a well-priced glove, with a reinforced open web design, full leather material, and closed back with a Velcro wrist adjustment. If you have large hands and have had difficulty finding a mitt that fits in the past, this is the glove for you.
Review Section III: The Best Softball Gloves for Youth Players
The most important thing to remember when shopping for a youth softball player is that they are still growing. Unless you have a few money trees in the backyard it’s probably a good idea to stick with less expensive mitts for the young-ins as they may outgrow it in a couple seasons.
The Louisville Slugger FA Diva Softball Glove is another great glove for new players. It’s a reasonably priced mitt that features a pig leather palm and easy close mesh backing. The extra soft palm lining will keep your young slugger happy. The Diva series requires no breaking in which is great for younger teams that do not practice as often as older teams. Louisville offers this glove in a 10.5 or 11.5 inch option, great for small hands.
If you’re looking for a cheap youth fastpitch glove, look no further. The Easton Youth Fastpitch Series is the perfect 11.5″ glove that will make catching easier for your little leaguer. It’s available in a few different colors and for both left and right handed throwers.
Wilson flash series is a great leather blend glove for youth players. It’s a 12″ span with and open back and closed web for control. It will take some breaking in, especially since it’s partially fabric. Even with the cheaper fabric option, it will still last you a while.
The Mizuno Prospect Series is the top softball glove for youth players. Mizuno incorporates the “Power Close” tech in this glove. Essentially, this aids the new players in closing the glove and securing more catches. The Prospect Series has a wider pocket so there is more area to catch the ball. It also features a closed back design that can be used in any position on the field, and palm lining that’s great for youth softball to reduce sting and soreness.