It can be tough raising an athlete. As parents, we want to give our children every possible advantage in life and in sport. Softball gloves are a prime example of the conundrum. Throw cost out the window, and high-quality, long-lasting gloves are everywhere. Go cheap, and you may be costing your child a chance to shine on the diamond. For parents who can’t throw hundreds of dollars at a glove, but who refuse to cheap out on their player, the choices quickly get limited to a select few options.

Rawlings new Shut Out series gloves fill that gap. They provide a quality option to players and parents for whom money is an issue but quality is a requirement. Available in different length patterns for players who specialize at certain positions, these new Rawlings gloves meet the needs of demanding players, without necessitating a second mortgage. They are a legitimate alternative to the exotic-leather gloves that price out the majority of families, and will handle the softball equally as well as any of them.

Features:

  • Full-grain leather shell, oil treated
  • Adjustable strap on back
  • Finger-shift design
  • Cushioned palm and index finger well
  • Small hand opening for female players
  • Closed, basket web
  • Quick break-in period
  • Pro Micro lining

Advantages

Closed Web

The closed web on the Rawlings Shut Out series works well at any position on the field. Players who sometimes find themselves in the circle can move from any positon on the field straight into pitching without having to run to the dugout and dig for their pitching gloves. Hiding the ball is easy with a basket web, but it works equally well in the infield or outfield.

Full-Grain Leather

Rawlings pre-oils the leather in these gloves to provide a quick break-in period. The company claims players will have only 20 percent of break-in time remaining at purchase. This means the gloves can legitimately be put straight into play, though it is best to allow at least a couple practices before thrusting the Shut Out into actual game play.

Redesigned for Balance

Rawlings put extra effort into balance with its redesign of the venerable Worth Shutout, and the results are impressive. These gloves have no discernible tipping points, and players can flip the glove from the fingers-up position to the basket position with a minimal amount of effort. Over time, this balance provides an even break-in, as there are no compensatory movements required of the player to utilize her glove properly.

Disadvantages

Small Hand Opening

Like many fastpitch softball gloves, the Shut Out is purposely designed with a small hand opening and finger wells to accommodate female players. While this sizing works well for the typical high school and travel ball player, those with larger hands may find these Rawlings gloves have too tight of a fit.

Finger Shift Design

The finger-shift design is a love-it-or-leave-it feature. Essentially, Rawlings has included added material on the outside of the index finger well to allow that finger to move back and away from hard-hit or hard-thrown balls. Intended to reduce the sting from these situations, the resulting freedom of movement it gives to the finger can be distracting to players who prefer a tighter fit in their gloves — a common requirement for fastpitch softball players.

Excessive Lacing

The all-leather laces on the Shut Out gloves are a nice touch. Good looking and tough, they will help these gloves last through several seasons of hard play. However, like their Worth predecessors, these laces have an inordinate amount of extra material, leaving leather strings hanging all over the place. Some players like this look, but others will have to get to work trimming them down to size.

Verdict

As Americans, one of the things we love about baseball and softball is that they are truly democratic sports. On the high school field, it doesn’t matter how much money your parents have, and players from either side of the tracks have equal opportunity to play well and to succeed. Unfortunately, when money is an issue, parents must take absolute care to ensure the equipment they purchase for their player is the best that they can afford.

The Rawlings Shut Out gloves fit well into this category. They are not a compromise, and parents can rest assured they are getting their player one of the best gloves in the game, at any price. The Shut Out is a redesign of the Worth Shutout gloves, which are no longer made but are still available from certain retailers. The name has been synonymous with affordable quality since it appeared. Players who cannot spend money blindly still deserve every chance to succeed on the softball field. These Rawlings gloves provide them that opportunity.

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