The defensive needs of each softball player are unique to their individual position, so having a glove that meets these demands is key. For infielders, the ability to make quick ball transfers and having complete control of the ball are two of the most desirable traits in a glove. To accomplish this, variations in the glove’s pocket depth, web design and size all come into play.
DICK’S Sporting Goods Associate Joey Lancianese states that softball gloves have larger pockets when you just compare them to a baseball glove because the size of the ball used, but when it comes to pocket depth for infielders, a shallower pocket is desirable due to its influence on ball transfers. “It’s all about wanting a quick release and getting the ball out of your glove and out of your hands quickly,” notes Lancianese.
Unlike in baseball, where field dimensions increase as players move up in age group, a softball diamond’s dimensions stay the same throughout playing levels. This smaller field means faster players running shorter distances, so for an infielder, there is less time to gain control and throw. This is why the majority of softball infielders prefer gloves that feature a closed web.
This style gives the player more support in their glove, allowing for a more secure catch, which lets the player focus on nailing that ball transfer to complete the play. A player should have the utmost confidence in their glove so that they can transfer the ball from glove to hand. Remember, in softball, the window of opportunity is already small. Every second counts.
Because of the emphasis on ball transfer and quick releases, your typical infielder’s glove will be the smallest on the field. A smaller glove allows a player to grasp the ball quickly and also lends itself to a smoother transfer. “This is even more important in fastpitch because the baselines are so much shorter,” Lancianese adds.
Because the softball is 11″, you will typically see fastpitch infielder gloves ranging between 10″ and 11.5″ for youth players and roughly 11.5″ and 12.5″ for players ages 13 and older.
If you play slow pitch softball, your glove size will be bigger because the ball is 12″. For slowpitch infielders, gloves will typically range between 11″ and 12.5″ for youth players and roughly 12 ” and 12.5″ for players 13 and older. In adult rec leagues, you can expect infielder’s gloves to average between 12” and 13.”
When it comes to what material your glove is made of, infielders have a variety of leathers to choose from. Each leather varies in levels of stiffness, break-in time and life expectancy. While synthetic leathers break in much easier than full grain and steerhide, these gloves do not last as long as those premium leathers. Pigskin and cowhide gloves lie in the middle of this spectrum, breaking in fairly easily and having a respectable life expectancy.
The final thing to consider when buying a softball infielder’s glove is to be comfortable with the fit and style. Choose a color scheme that represents your personality, and make sure that the fit is snug and comfortable. Keeping all of these qualities in mind you can find the perfect glove for your game.