Many athletes have brands they are faithful to when choosing equipment used during gameplay. This list compiles the ten brands most popular with softball players, whether it be on a professional or recreational level.
Rawlings is one of the most successful companies for sports equipment, outlasting other companies and distributing their gear across the country and the world. Rawlings is known as "The Gold Glove Company", originating from its sponsorship with Major League Baseball in providing its annual Gold Glove Award. The company has been around as a sportswear brand since 1887. The company started manufacturing gloves in 1919, originally focusing on baseball gloves but gradually transitioning into softball as well. Though Rawlings is known for gloves, they also produce softballs and helmets and other gear needed for softball other than clothing. Rawlings equipment is a heavily trusted brand. Rawlings provides all of the helmets for the National Professional Fastpitch Softball League and is the official softball for the NCAA. In that sense, Rawlings has a hand in all of softball, both at the professional and collegiate level.
Mizuno was founded in 1906 in Osaka Japan as a shop that sold primarily baseball equipment. In the years following, the demand for Mizuno sports equipment grew. In 1913, Mizuno began to manufacture baseball gloves. One year later, mass production began as the company grew and produced more internationally. Today, Mizuno is a top brand internationally for sports, even becoming an official sponsor for the Osaka Marathon. Their speciality remains baseball and softball, while also producing gloves, balls, cleats, and other equipment. Mizuno has the honor of sponsoring arguably the biggest face in softball history. Jennie Finch is a Mizuno sponsored athlete. She wears the brand and has done so for a few years, touting Mizuno gloves as the best. Vanessa Shippy, a professional softball player, is also sponsored by the company, referencing her bat as the best she has used.
Easton is the leading brand for bats, both baseball and softball, and has been known for their bats and now protective equipment. Easton is the sponsor of many major collegiate baseball and softball teams. Easton was founded in 1922, their original product being bows and arrows. They got into the aluminum business with arrow shafts before transferring to other sports. Easton became popular in the late 1990s due to their composite business making hockey blades, hockey sticks, and in 1999 the first ever two piece metal baseball bat. In this Easton has expanded into the baseball and softball markets. Today Easton is one of the biggest brands in baseball and softball. Easton is the official sponsor of USA softball as well as National Champions UCLA.
Demarini is the most famous bat brand in the world. Most people in the United States know Demarini as a maker of metal bats, especially for youth and Little League. Demarini has now expanded to be a bigger brand, doing not only bats for baseball and softball but apparel, protective equipment like helmets and useful items like batting gloves. Unlike other companies on the list, Demarini was founded with softball specifically in mind. Ray Demarini, the company's founder, was an avid softball player and he decided to make a bat for that specific purpose. An innovator in bat technology the company has cemented itself at the top of the softball world. Softball players sponsored by Demarini include Sierra Romero, Mo Mercado, and more. They sponsor Auburn University, Baylor University, the University of Michigan, and more at the collegiate level.
Nike is the most famous sportswear brand of all time. Founded as a shoe brand, Nike is well known worldwide for its footwear, equipment, clothing, athletes, advertisements, and much more. When it comes to softball, Nike has been making equipment and clothing for years. Their softball cleats and shoes are famous and worn by many athletes. Nike also makes pants for softball as well as undershirts, uniforms, and other aparrel. Nike's dri-fit technology is revolutionary for softball clothing. Nike is a company that has always supported women's sports, softball among them. The brand runs camps for softball players to gain exposure. Additionally, Nike is a sponsor for many universities, most notably the Oregon Ducks and all of their sports, including softball.
Wilson, born in 1913 as a split off from a meat packing company, used animal by-product to string up tennis rackets, and eventually to make baseball and softball gloves using leather. In the nineteen forties, Wilson bought a knitting company and has made everything stitched in sports, from balls, to gloves, to uniforms. It has made products for a wide array of other sports, including golf, soccer, basketball, football, and many more. Wilson is one of the most iconic glove companies in terms of softball, probably second to only Rawlings. Their A2000 series is both legendary for the quality of glove as well as the customization process that allows players to create their own colors and styles of glove. The A2000 is worn by players at all levels and is one of the world's most trusted gloves. Part of the reason that softball players trust Wilson so much is their advisory staff and deals with top softball players, including many members of Team USA such as Monica Abbott, Courtney Gano, and Cat Osterman. Wilson provides gloves for many college softball players as well.
Franklin is a brand that does not differentiate between their baseball and softball equipment, unlike other brands on the list. Interestingly, this does not hinder their popularity within the softball community, as they still are a top selling brand for softball equipment, protective gear, apparel, and most famously, batting gloves. The brand came together in 1983 with Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia Phillie's star third baseman, needed a custom batting glove created for him, one that would become popular with MLB stars at the time. As players wore more Franklin batting gloves, the brand rose to prominence in that field. Today, the brand's batting gloves are popular amongst baseball and softball players alike. Part of the appeal of the gloves is the ability to customize. Adding colors to any part of the gloves allows player creativity and players to show their style on the field. Franklin does not specifically endorse schools or athletes when it comes to softball but many athletes can be seen wearing their equipment.
Worth has established itself as a provider of everything softball. Worth is most famous for their bats, though they have expanded in recent years and now sell gloves specifically for fastpitch softball as well. Worth makes their bread and butter in softballs and softball bats, both for slow pitch softball, where durability and power are key components, and in fastpitch softball where speed and strength are key for equipment. Worth's brand is built on slowpitch softball as much as fastpitch, and it shows in their advisory staff of players, most of whom are big time slowpitch male players like Keith Martin and Jason Matusik. That being said, there are fastpitch female players on the advisory staff as well, namely, Sara Poteat and Justine Real.
Schutt is a brand that has been in the business of protective gear, and with softball is no different. In 1935 Schutt was the leader of football facemasks and in 1962, when masks became mandatory for professional football players, the company was at the forefront of protective gear. Today in softball, as more pitchers and corner infielders are opting for facemask and hockey style helmets to protect their faces and heads, Schutt once again is ahead of the game, so to speak, providing these protective helmets for all players. Schutt makes everything for softball, from home plates to pitching rubbers, to helmets and umpire equipment, even bags. Schutt protective gear can be found on many softball athletes though none are sponsored.
Ripit is a softball specific brand that has flourished, realizing that the market for brands that focus on softball is small. Their website features opportunities for players to order uniforms for entire teams. Ripit has sponsorship deals with softball teams and programs across the country. With 13.2 thousand followers on Instagram, Ripit, though lesser known, is a big brand in the softball industry. Additionally, Ripit has become popular for allowing players to test their gear. For thirty days, a player can decide if the gear is right for them before choosing to return it if they so desire. With a four hundred day warranty, Ripit allows players to return broken equipment, ensuring a reliable product for all softball players.