Players in slow-pitch softball tend to float around the field, playing whatever position they are needed to inning by inning. Some of these players also put in time on the baseball diamond, whether it be in a wooden-bat league, or any of the other myriad ways we keep our love of the game alive. If this description fits your game, you will understand the difficulty in finding a glove that can do everything, and do it well.
Enter the Rawlings Player Preferred Series gloves. Rawlings makes a Player Preferred glove for just about any player on the field, and many of them, like the P130HFL, can more or less effortlessly move around from position to position and field to field. So, does the Player Preferred Series live up to its one-for-all intentions? Let’s dig a little deeper and find out.
- Full-grain leather is oiled for quick break in
- Pro H-web design (other webs available on different gloves)
- Utility pattern has multiple uses
- Softball-ready and baseball-capable
- Zero Shock palm pad keeps sting at bay
- Adjustable Velcro strap cinches glove tight
- Soft leather is almost game ready at purchase
Superior Grade of Leather
Rawlings’ material of choice in the Player Preferred Series is a pre-oiled, full-grain cow leather. It is soft when purchased, and it requires little breaking in before it is game ready, though it is not as game-ready as Rawlings would have you believe. The leather gets more luxurious with a bit of age on it, and is dense enough to survive several seasons of multi-sport play.
Baseball and Softball Capable
The multi-sport feature is most uncommon in softball gloves. The large pocket in the typical slow-pitch glove simply swallows the much smaller baseball. Not so here. The Player Preferred Series utilizes a pocket that is on the large side for a baseball glove, but at the same time is small for a softball glove. It is not overly small for softball, though, and players who have played significant amounts of time at the infield positions in baseball should find these gloves strike a familiar chord.
Zero Shock Padding
It is quite unusual for a slow-pitch softball glove to have any significant amount of palm or finger padding whatsoever. Being designed for baseball as well as softball, though, these gloves have considerable padding compared to their peers. If you play in a more competitive league with former baseball and fastpitch softball players who can hit and hum it, the extra padding in the Player Preferred Series gloves will likely be welcome in its first game. There are baseball gloves with more padding, but not many slow-pitch gloves can compare.
H-Web Not Everyone’s Favorite
The open, H-web on the 13-inch Player Preferred has its advantages, such as allowing for easier sighting of a ball in play. However, players who are used to closed webs may not enjoy making the switch. There are other webs available, but only on larger or smaller patterns in the Player Preferred Series. Finding one that fits your hand and suits your eye may be a challenge for more finicky players.
Utility has its Downsides
There is no getting around the fact that the Player Preferred Series’ pocket is odd everywhere it goes. Its large pocket for baseball is a small pocket for softball. Baseballs can be secured with a bit more effort than normal, but it really works best as an outfielder’s glove on the bigger diamond. The opposite is true on the softball field, though, where its size makes it more suited for the infield.
Sizes Run Small
Though these gloves are ostensibly made for adult players, the hand openings and finger stalls of the 13-inch pattern may be too small for players with larger hands. If you have big hands, you might want to look at the 14-inch Player Preferred. Likewise, if you have smaller hands, the 12.5-inch pattern may be more your style. Those gloves also come with a basket web so, if you prefer closed webs, you may consider them for that reason alone.
Here’s a quick look at this (quite nice looking) glove in use:
Rawlings Player Preferred Series P130HFL provides serious quality and diversity, the likes of which is seldom seen in either sport. Though baseball players who normally man the infield may find its pocket makes for clumsy exchanges, it is at home on the softball infield. The issue with making gloves to make so many players happy is that you run the risk of not pleasing anyone. If you temper your expectations of the perfect position player’s glove and accept that these gloves will have shortcomings at certain places on the field, you will likely find that they are plenty good enough almost everywhere.
Not the glove you’re looking for? We have a guide on the best softball gloves in any category, take a look for more information.