What Should You Look for in a Top Rated Glove?
There is no more critical piece of equipment to a fastpitch softball player’s level of play than her glove or mitt. Far too often, a player of superior ability struggles on the field because of an ill-fitting or poorly constructed glove. A hard lesson that many well-meaning parents learn is that the best fastpitch softball glove is not necessarily the most expensive one.
The search for the perfect fastpitch softball glove has many pitfalls. Purchasing a glove based on the name sewn into it will get you as far as judging it on price alone. The most expensive leathers do not perform better than the materials that make up the gloves on this list. They may provide a bit better feel or longevity, but that does not always equate to better performance.
The following list and the accompanying reviews are, by necessity, incomplete. These gloves are representative of the best fastpitch softball gloves because of criteria they all have in common. The main thing they all address is parents’ and players’ needs for functional, long-lasting gloves that do not require taking out a second mortgage. Additionally, you should get an idea for which brands are the most trustworthy in the long run. In that respect, the following gloves offer what we believe is the most bang for the buck on the current market.
Looking for Youth and Slowpitch gloves? Check out our overall softball glove reviews on the main page. This article is geared towards gloves for beginning and intermediate players. If you’re looking to play on the high school or collegiate level, please have a look at our article about gloves the pros use.
Our Top Pick: Mizuno MVP Prime
The best combination of performance and quality for the price, this glove is easy to break in and get playing with right away.
Note: If you need information on how to figure out your glove size, please see our detailed article on how to measure your glove size and the differences for each position. Then, watch the video below for a good summary of the key things to consider.
The Best Fastpitch Gloves Compared
Mizuno Franchise Fastpitch Softball Glove
- Pre-oiled for quick break-in
- Large, double-hinged pocket
- Useful at any position
- Soft and appealing Java leather
- Designed for smaller hands
All-around Field Utility
If you tend to move around the field, playing different positions regularly, the Mizuno Franchise may be your mitt. Its large pocket and double hinged heel help outfielders secure fly balls and help middle infielders snag scorched shots, and the web is perfect to allow pitchers to hide their grip.
Targeted and Protective Design
Some manufacturers try to please everyone, but Mizuno designed the Franchise to fit smaller hands. Its tighter-fitting finger stalls and adjustable hand opening won’t work well for players with larger hands, but smaller players, who often find it difficult to find adult-sized equipment that fits, should appreciate the Mizuno Franchise. Its Parashock padding is a smart addition that make it easy to flag down sharply hit balls with confidence.
Leather Quality Concerns
There is no denying that the Mizuno Franchise is a sharp-looking glove. The chocolate-colored leather, with opposite-colored laces, is soft and beautiful. It’s quality leather, but it lacks the heft of steer hide. With a glove like this, you’ll want it to last for several seasons, and with care, it can. But it will not retain its like-new condition while absorbing much abuse during play.
Do One Thing and Do It Well
Mizuno made an excellent utility glove in the Franchise, but it suffers from the common fault with designs of such broad appeal. Its size makes it appealing to the infielder, but the large pocket may hinder a quick exchange to the throwing hand. If you play third base, it may be too large for you all together, and outfielders may also find it small. As a glove for a pitcher who doesn’t always pitch, the Franchise is perfect, though.
The Mizuno Franchise Fastpitch 12.5” may not be the perfect glove for everyone, but utility players and pitchers should give it a close look. It is practically broken in when you buy it, and it will last for years with proper care. For serious players of a smaller stature, the value and quality easily outweigh the few compromises required to put it in play.
Easton Synergy Elite Fastpitch 2000 (SYFP2000) Catcher’s Mitt
- VRS Palm Pad protects hand
- Oil-tanned leather breaks in quickly
- Ideal Fit System with closed back and Velcro strap
- Narrow finger stalls and hand opening
- Deep pocket aids clean catches
The oil-tanned leather Easton uses for its Synergy Elite Fastpitch 2000 mitts is soft and durable. With proper maintenance, this catcher’s mitt should last through several seasons behind the plate. Easton soft tumbles the Synergy Elite mitts, so break-in period is short, but like most mitts, some break in is necessary.
Comfortable Fit = Functional Performance
The SYFP2000 is sized to fit small hands securely. A Velcro strap cinches the mitt to your hand, while a soft Bio-Dri liner keeps it dry and comfortable. The two-piece web and extra-deep pocket allow for a margin of error on finesse pitches, and the VRS palm pad provides protection when the pitcher’s dealing heat.
Deep Pocket Liability
The pocket on the SYFP2000 catcher’s mitt is deep enough to prevent the odd drop, but catchers at higher levels of play may find it too deep. The tradeoff for the margin of error built into the mitt is that it may hinder a quick exchange to the throwing hand. When facing a team full of slappers, the tenths of a second a deep pocket costs could make a difference.
Fits Small Hands Only
The SYFP2000 will fit small hands extremely well, but high school and collegiate players may have to look elsewhere. As comfortable and highly performing as the mitt may be, Easton sized larger players right out of this mitt. If the fit is borderline tight, it will get worse in the heat of battle. But if its borderline loose, the Velcro strap will make it snug.
At the toughest position on the field, a mitt has much to do. With the SYFP 2000, Easton made a catcher’s mitt that suits a wide swath of players, and their style of play, well. When the worst thing you can say about a mitt is that it won’t fit everyone, the manufacturer did something right. If you have small hands and you’re in the market for a catcher’s mitt, here it is.
Franklin Fastpitch Series 12” Softball
- Basket web
- Synthetic leather with full-mesh back
- Hook-and-loop closure on hand opening
- Palm is laminated with polyurethane
- Large pocket for ball security
Large Pocket Secures Ball
Part of the reason this Franklin Fastpitch series glove measures 12 inches is because the depth of its large pocket. The hand opening and finger stalls will fit a younger high schooler, but only the smallest teenager’s hands will find it comfortable. If you fit in this category, you know how hard it can be to find a decent fastpitch glove that won’t slide around on your hand. Yours is an underserved niche.
Tough, Pliable Urethane Laminate
The polyurethane coating on the palm of the Franklin Fastpitch series gloves achieves two things. First, urethane is a tough material that withstands impacts but flexes enough for immediate use on the field. Second, over time the material will scuff slightly, providing friction to keep the ball secure.
When purchased, the Franklin Fastpitch’s synthetic leather is slick, causing the ball to move around in the pocket. With play, this situation is remedied, but it is not ready for game use off the shelf. The synthetic material and mesh backing loosen up quickly, though, so just a few practices should be plenty to break it in completely.
One and Done
Much like any fastpitch softball glove made from synthetic materials, the Easton Fastpitch will not likely last longer than one season. Leather gloves require care, but that effort is usually rewarded with a long, multi-year life span. Synthetic gloves do not improve with age, however, and the clock is ticking the minute they go into use.
The Franklin Fastpitch gloves are an excellent entryway into the world of fastpitch softball. The most serious of players will likely require a glove with a longer life span, but for players just getting their first games in, it’s a great option. Its solid construction and size make it a good fit for larger youth players and smaller high school players alike. If you’re on a tight budget, you should give this glove a chance.
Mizuno MVP Prime
- Parashock plus palm pad with soft palm liner
- Tartan II web and large pocket
- BioThrowback leather is soft and durable
- Pro-quality lacing
- Multiple uses at various positions
The Mizuno MVP series is made from a soft, high-quality, pebbled leather that breaks in quickly and easily. Some light oiling and a few simple games of catch are all it takes. These gloves do not sacrifice anything for softness, though. With proper care, your Mizuno MVP series glove will last through several seasons.
Closed Web and Large Pocket
The Tartan II web is one of the most versatile web designs in the game. It is closed, so it will work for pitchers and those who sub in to pitch often. Coupled with the large pocket, the Tartan II web is great for outfielders and infielders alike. The double-hinged heel, which helps form the wide pocket shape, makes closing the MVP series much easier, especially once break in is complete.
Some Break-In Required
When new, the Mizuno MVP series is too stiff to put into gameplay situations. It will not take a dedicated regimen or an act of Congress to get it ready, though. Some other gloves may come ready for play at purchase, but few in this price range will feel as good on your hand over time than the MVP.
Sizing for Small Hands
The bugaboo of fastpitch gloves strikes again. Manufacturers like Mizuno must meet the demands of the largest market segment applicable, and for the fastpitch market, that means girls with small hands. Note that the model we link to here is 12.5 inches, however, so if you have very small hands, it might be too big. But for the vast majority of fastpitch players, the finger stalls and adjustable hand opening will be sized just right.
Much like the Mizuno Franchise series, the MVP is a player’s glove. The leather is high quality, though not the highest, and the web has universal appeal. The pocket is large without being overly deep, so it can serve equally well at almost any position. If you play anywhere but first or third base, the Mizuno MVP series may be your Goldilocks glove. When you combine these factors, this is why we’ve given the nod to the Mizuno MVP for best fastptich glove overall.
Mizuno MVP Series GXS58 34-Inch Catcher’s Mitt
- Soft, durable BioThrowback leather
- H-web increases visibility
- Parashock palm pad keeps hand safe
- Double hinged for wide pocket
- Quick break-in period
The Mizuno MVP series catcher’s mitt is made from a soft yet tough leather that Mizuno calls BioThrowback. While it will require some care to properly wear in, this material is strong enough to last many seasons at the toughest position is softball. Unlike inferior leathers, it will only improve with age, assuming proper care is maintained.
Beginning with the Ortholite Parashock palm pad, Mizuno made every effort to ensure the MVP series mitts protect your hand from the hardest pitches. The V-flex notch above the padding and the double hinge on the heel make for a wide pocket, which will form naturally right at the top of the padding where it should be.
H-web Not for Everyone
The Mizuno MVP series mitts feature an H-web design, which some catchers favor for its added visibility. However, the twin posts rely heavily on the strength of just a few laces to hold everything together. They are pro-quality laces, but they are still a ticking time bomb. Sooner or later, they will require repair.
Not the Best Leather
Compared to some upper-level catcher’s mitts, the Mizuno MVP’s leather is lackluster. The BioThrowback leather is certainly soft and strong, but it will lack the longevity of heavy steer hide. Still, with a reasonable amount of care, the MVP series mitts are capable of lasting several seasons before they show their age.
Fastpitch softball catcher’s mitts take a serious beating. Play after play and pitch after pitch, the constant pounding can tear a mitt of lesser quality apart. The Mizuno MVP shrugs off abuse, though. It will get better and better, and its pocket will form perfectly, from the repetitive bashing of hard pitches. With the proper regimen of care, this mitt will last you several years behind the plate.
The fastpitch softball glove market is choked with overpriced gloves of questionable quality, as well as cheap gloves with a complete lack of quality. Finding a great glove at a reasonable price is possible, but it requires a bit of research. The gloves and mitts on this list fit the bill and are strong competitors for the title of “best” fastpitch glove in terms of fit and function, and they shouldn’t break the bank either. Regardless of price, a fastpitch softball glove is an investment. It should do more than get you by for a season, then send you back to the store next year looking for a replacement. These gloves all have one thing in common — They get better with age. Look for longevity in a glove or mitt, and your investment will pay for itself in the return of better play over time. Still can’t decide? Check out our best pick here.