When you decide it’s time to move up to a high-quality, professional-level softball glove, the purchasing decisions become more complex, not less. Suddenly, you are confronted with the real possibility of flushing several hundred dollars down the drain on a glove that you, or your player, cannot field. At its highest levels, softball is not a game of almost and close enough. The expectation is that a player will make the play every time.

When a player is very young, a $30-dollar glove will usually suffice. If the fitment is an issue, you can replace it easily enough. Once a player reaches high school, though, those days are over. Rawlings targets exactly those players with its Liberty Advanced Fastpitch Softball Glove. This series utilizes premium leather and high, professional-quality stitching to produce a softball glove capable of supporting elite female softball players. These gloves are at home in high school, Division 1 and select travel-ball fields alike. So, is the Liberty Advanced series right for you?

Features:

  • Oil-treated
  • USA tanned leather
  • Professional-grade laces
  • Poron XRD Palm Pad and Finger Pads
  • Adjustable-strap opening
  • Sized for female hands
  • Deep pocket

Advantages

Premium Leather

Rawlings uses premium, full-grained tanned leather on all its Liberty Advanced gloves. Some utilize the same leather inside and out, while others have soft, deer-tanned leather on their interior. But everywhere you look on these gloves, quality materials are prominent.

The quality extends to the part of the glove that players looking for their perfect fastpitch softball glove often gloss over: the laces. The Liberty Advanced Series all use high and heavy, professional-quality laces. The leather in these laces should last through years of abuse, and the glove will only respond better as they stretch and break in.

Oil Treated

The oil treatment of the Liberty Advanced Series means you will have a much easier time breaking in your glove than cheaper gloves made with inferior leather. Rawlings claims its Liberty Advanced gloves arrive to the user 80 percent broken in, leaving the player to finish the remaining 20 percent.

This ratio is more of a guideline than a set fact, and your break-in time will vary depending on your preferred method. Regardless, as the premium, full-grain tanned leather becomes more pliable, Rawlings’ Liberty Advanced transforms into one of the softest, most comfortable softball gloves on the market — at any price.

Disadvantages

Brand Confusion

The Liberty Advanced Series sometimes carries the Worth name instead of Rawlings. There is no difference between these gloves. In 2007, Jarden Team Sports, owner of many brands such as Rawlings, acquired the Worth brand. Worth has been a major player in sporting goods for more than a century, so either name brand will function the same as the other.

However, when a company with a history as rich as Worth’s falls under the umbrella of a much-larger brand conglomerate, a little piece of Americana is lost. The Worth glove and the Rawlings glove are both the same, but their makers are a mystery that once did not exist. This does not mean customers will get shuffled aside should a problem arise with the equipment, but it seems to increase the chances of that happening.

Players Must Have Small Hands

The only downfall of the Liberty Advanced Series is that they won’t fit everyone. Like many fastpitch softball gloves, these gloves have smaller finger stalls to fit a woman’s hands. Of course, hands come in different sizes, just like players. In trying to fit the average, Rawlings excludes the people at the extremes.

For women with larger hands, this should be a common occurrence. Some players may even prefer the tighter fit of the smaller finger stalls. They are certainly not as small as finger stalls in some other brands’ fastpitch gloves, so unless your hands are very large or very small, the Rawlings Liberty Advanced Series at least deserves a look.

Verdict

The Rawlings (or Worth) Liberty Advanced Series is aptly named. They provide players the freedom to reach their potential with a modern, design. The leather in these gloves is on par with gloves costing twice as much — or more, and they are available in pocket depths and web patterns to suit any position on the field. These are the types of gloves players use for years, and eventually hold on to for the rest of their lives.

Premium leather requires upkeep, of course, which is why gloves like these are reserved for serious softball players who know how to take care of their equipment. That leather will also require a bit of breaking in before it is ready for elite-level play. But when the competition is at that elite level, the Rawlings Liberty Advanced Series fastpitch gloves are ready for the challenge.

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