The 10 Best Softball Safety Masks
This wiki has been updated 27 times since it was first published in April of 2015. As anyone who has played the sport will attest, softballs are not particularly soft. Luckily, you can still enjoy your favorite game without having to risk, or worry about, facial injury by donning one of these protective fielders' masks. These highly-rated defensive items vary in their styling, but they each make safety and comfort a priority. We've included youth and adult models. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
March 05, 2021:
After much research into how well our previous recommendations have performed since we last visited this list, we still stand by all of them and have chosen not to remove any at this time. That being said, we did find a new model worthy of inclusion, and that is the EvoShield Defender's. We like this one for multiple reasons, one of which is its customizable padding that should ensure a comfortable fit for any player. It pairs this with a minimalist design that offers protection without a lot of unnecessary bulk that could potentially block your vision or cause excessive sweating.
Of course, we do realize that some may still not feel entirely comfortable with a mask with such thin and so few bars, and for those people we recommend the Sklz Field Shield, Rawlings Face First, Markwort Game Face, and Athletic Specialties Game Face, all of which offer more coverage. The Rawlings Face First is another one of our new additions this year, and while not without its drawbacks, it stands out for its frosted bars. Unlike with clear plastic, this frosted kind is less prone to producing glare when the sun hits it. However, it should be noted that models with thick plastic bars like these can feel a bit claustrophobic to some and have a greater chance of interfering with vision when looking in certain directions.
March 15, 2019:
Just like any sport, softball can be dangerous if you don't take the necessary precautions and wear protective equipment. In this case, safety masks. We have made sure to include adult and youth models, as well as those suited for both men and women to ensure there is an option here to fit everyone's needs. In softball safety masks, you generally have two main styles to pick between: metal and polycarbonate. Metal is stronger and, because of this, can have a more minimalistic design, whereas polycarbonate is often lighter, but requires thicker bars. If weight is a deciding factor for you, but you aren't sold on a polycarbonate model because you are worried about it shattering, well you don't have to be. They are specifically design to be 100-percent shatterproof. We can understand if our words don't convince you though, so in that case, you'll want to take a look at the Schutt Sports 12265. Unlike most other metal options, it is crafted from titanium, rather then steel. This allows it to be almost as light as polycarbonate models, but still keep its sleek design. The Worth Legit is nice steel model that comes with a helmet, so there is one less thing for you to have to buy. If you want something to match your team's colors, take a look at the Schutt Sports Fielders Guard, which comes in 25 different styles. For those who are interested in a polycarbonate option, the Sklz Field Shield is our favorite, since it is affordable, comfortable, doesn't hinder your view, and offers a high degree of protection.
History Of Softball
A small baseball diamond was drawn with chalk on the floor of the boat club and the game was on.
The inaugural softball game occurred on Thanksgiving day in 1887. It was an impromptu event that took place between Yale fans and Harvard fans as they sat together in the Chicago Farragut Boat Club awaiting the outcome of a football game between the two colleges. When Yale was announced as the winner, a Yale fan jokingly threw a boxing glove at one of the Harvard fans, who swung at it with a stick. As he hit the ball, George Hancock, a Chicago Board of Trade reporter, yelled "Play ball!"
So commenced the first softball game, originally known as indoor baseball. It is believed that Hancock took the boxing glove and balled it up more tightly using the incorporated tie strings. The players then scoured the area and found a broom handle, which was used as the bat. A small baseball diamond was drawn with chalk on the floor of the boat club and the game was on. It lasted roughly an hour, with a final score of 41 to 40. The players all had so much fun that Hancock decided to write down the rules. Eventually, they even painted permanent lines on the boat club's floor.
Over the winter of 1888 and 1889, indoor baseball became very popular in Chicago as a way for baseball players to stay in shape when it was too cold to play outdoors. The game quickly spread throughout the Midwest, and over the next decade, went by a number of different names, including kitten baseball, mush ball, diamond ball, and pumpkin ball. It wasn't until 1926 that Walter Hakanson created the term softball. He used it while representing the YMCA at a National Recreation Congress meeting, and it became the game's official name in 1930.
Growing Popularity Of Softball
Originally started as an amateur sport, softball has broken through that label and is slowly becoming a professional event. Millions of people watch the Women's College World Series of fastpitch softball every year, and this fastpitch version bears little resemblance to the indoor versions played years ago.
Progressively, high schools are adding softball teams to their round up, as well, and the number of college scholarships for fastpitch softball is also increasing.
In fastpitch softball, the ball travels upwards of 75 mph for women and 85 mph for men on a standard pitch. The unique pitching style also allows for a variety of pitches that are not possible with baseball's overhand throwing style.
It's not just college level softball that is growing in popularity, either. After baseball, softball is becoming one of the most played little league sports. Parents appreciate that it is considerably safer than many other sports, but still fosters the same team social skills and high activity levels.
Progressively, high schools are adding softball teams to their round up, as well, and the number of college scholarships for fastpitch softball is also increasing. It's even been announced that fastpitch softball will be back on the program for the 2020 summer Olympics.
Softball Facial Injuries
Despite the name, softball can actually be a dangerous sport if proper safeguards aren't taken. Years ago, not too many players wore any kind of protective face mask, but with the rise in softball's popularity, more and more injuries have occurred.
In high school games, softballs can travel at speeds well over 50 mph when hit by a batter, and pitchers, along with those at first and third base, have less than half a second to react when the ball is flying directly at them. No matter how soft the ball may be, when it makes contact with the face at those speeds, it can result in serious injury. 17.2 percent of all softball injuries are actually head and facial trauma.
No matter how soft the ball may be, when it makes contact with the face at those speeds, it can result in serious injury.
A prime example of the possible dangers softball infielders face, can be seen by looking at teenager Peyton Workman from Topeka, Kansas. She was pitching in a tournament game when she was hit in the face after a batter hit a line drive directly at her. The result was a broken nose and an emergency trip to the hospital. More examples like this one are easy to find.
Haylee Hamm, a high school softball shortstop in Kentucky, was also hit in the face by a line drive. It shattered the orbital floor of her left eye, fractured her nose, and gave her a concussion. She required plastic surgery and a titanium plate to fix the severe damage to her face. Senior Didi Duran was hit in the forehead and suffered a severe concussion which caused some minor memory loss and regular bouts of dizziness for months after the accident.
Currently, in high school games, only batters are required to wear a face mask according to national requirements, but some high schools are taking it upon themselves to institute their own regulations. Schools in the Richardson Independent School District require face masks for first and third base players and at J.J. Pierce, also in the Richardson district, the coach requires all infielders to wear face masks. Unfortunately, most schools still don't require them. Instead, the responsibility falls on the parent to ensure their kid's safety.