The search for the perfect fastpitch softball glove can be a never-ending struggle. With so many choices, weeding out the undesirables still leaves mountains of options. No one wants to throw money away on a glove that is ill-fitting or ill-suited for the player and her position.

When a player moves around the field in a utility role, the issues are compounded. Gloves intended for one or two positions may shine in their intended functions, but can easily become useless when asked to multitask. And, for middle and high school players, small hands can make finding the best combination of fit and function frustrating.

Thankfully, Mizuno has addressed these issues with its Franchise series. The Mizuno GFN1250F1 Franchise Fastpitch Tartan H2 Softball glove is designed specifically to meet the needs of younger female players. The fit and finish of these gloves solves many of the issues that elite softball players encounter in the quest for the perfect glove.

Features:

  • Any-position utility
  • Tartan basket web
  • Pre-oiled Java leather for short break-in period
  • ParaShock padding on palm
  • Double-hinged for large pocket
  • Designed for female teens’ smaller hands

Advantages

Age- and Gender-Specific Design

Mizuno designed the Franchise series with a smaller hand opening and tighter finger stalls to better fit female hands. When coupled with the PowerLock hook-and-loop wrist closure, the Franchise gloves meld onto smaller hands and form a secure fit. More than just a matter of comfort, a well-fitting glove enables players to make sure plays, and fumbling transfers become an issue of the past.

Comfortable Protection

Another benefit of the Franchise series is the confidence that comes from using a well-built and protective glove. The ParaShock palm padding removes the sting from hard-lined shots, and solid java leather protects the glove hand. As an added benefit, Mizuno pre-oils the leather for a quick break-in.

Any-Position Utility

The Franchise series shines in its usefulness, and the tartan web is well-suited to just about any position. The double-hinged heel provides a large pocket that aids in securing fly balls in the outfield. As an infielder’s glove, the Franchise is equally at home at the middle-infield positions and the hot corner. And, inside the pitching circle, the basket web hides the pitcher’s grip to keep batters guessing.

Disadvantages

Only for Small Hands

The Franchise series is designed specifically for female players with small hands. While this will suit most middle-school and high-school players, it is not a fit for everyone. Players with only slightly larger hands may find the hand opening too small and the inside fit cramped. The glove is pre-broken in, so do not expect much stretching to accommodate a larger hand. Tight-fitting softball gloves quickly become uncomfortable and distracting on the field.

Jack-of-all-Trades Issues

The more problems designers try to solve, the less they solve each problem well. This Franchise model suffers a bit from its multi-functionality. As an outfield glove, it performs well but does not excel. As an infield glove, it retains its usefulness, put the large pocket may hinder transfer times and give up invaluable tenths of seconds to speedy baserunners. It is truly at home for pitchers, however, especially those who move into and out of the circle regularly.

Longevity

The Franchise gloves utilize good-quality leather, and the java color is eye-catching. But these gloves lack the durability of steer-hide and top-grain leather. It is not uncommon to get three seasons out of these gloves when well-cared for, but they are not destined to survive that long without help. That said, lasting more than one year is an achievement with fast-growing teenagers, and the Franchise series gloves can easily last long enough to be outgrown.

Verdict

The Mizuno Franchise Fastpitch Tartan H2 Softball glove is in many ways the perfect glove for school players below the collegiate level. It is sized right for most of them, and its utility functions are at home for better players who tend to roam from position to position. If there is any question as to which position a player will end up playing, this glove is the answer.

It is not, however, the perfect fit for everyone. If the player in question has slightly larger hands, the Mizuno MVP Fastpitch Glove may be a viable alternative. It has many of the same features as the Franchise series (minus the mocha-colored leather), but its pattern includes larger finger stalls and a bigger hand opening.

If the player’s hands are smaller, though, your search may be over. You could look at thousands of products and reviews and not find a more respected and appreciated glove. Of course, if your player is position-bound, a more dedicated glove will likely suit her needs better. But, if she is as nomadic as most players in this age group, the Franchise Fastpitch Tartan H2 might just be the perfect softball glove.

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