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Fastpitch softball pitchers depend greatly on their cleats, to push hard off the rubber, plant the lead foot firmly in the dirt, and then drag the rear foot through the all-important follow-through. Their needs are real, so we investigated the best softball cleats for pitchers for 2023 and beyond, and are very excited to present them.
In both softball and baseball, it’s hard to imagine another position putting as much pressure on the cleats as the pitcher. A catcher may beat up cleats pretty well with all the squatting and creases on the shoes, but it’s still hard to top those working in the circle or on the mound.
We inspected a number of fastpitch softball cleats, specifically with the pitcher position in mind. We looked closely at the front toe cap, as the tip of the cleat on the rear (dragging) foot tends to wear down fastest at that point.
We also considered several other areas of importance, like quality of the rubber sole or metal cleats at the bottom, ankle support, weight, materials, price range, and more.
Summary: Our 8 Best Cleats for Softball Pitchers
- It’s appropriate that the name of the biggest legend in fastpitch softball is attached to our top choice, the Mizuno Advanced Finch Franchise 7 Fastpitch Softball Cleat.
- The Under Armour Women’s ST Softball Shoe caught our eye with an abrasion-resistance toe cap, and a technology-infused midsole.
- Pitchers who insist on comfortable kicks should look into the New Balance Women’s Fuse V2 Metal Softball Shoe.
- The Adidas Women’s Icon Bounce TPU impresses us with the brand’s application of the special hard plastic.
- No softball or baseball cleat list would be complete without at least one Nike entry, and here it’s the Nike Hyperdiamond 3 Keystone Softball Cleat.
- Want even more comfort? Then look deeper into the second entry on this list by this brand, delivering the New Balance Women’s Fresh Foam Velo V2 Molded Softball Shoe.
- There is much to like about the Ringor Women’s Dynasty 2.0 Spike Cleats, which show off the brand’s attention to softball-specific needs.
- For that all-important protection around the entire toe area, check out the Ringor Women’s Flite Molded Pitching Softball Cleats!
What to Look for with Softball Cleats for Pitchers
As stated above, the very tip of the toes on cleats take a beating from softball pitchers, who step down hard on the front foot, and then drag the rear foot with all the momentum of every pitch, over and over and over again. If you ever see a player and wonder what position she plays, look at the cleats. If the toes are super scuffed, or even have holes, you’re looking at a pitcher.
Some softball cleats are designed purposely for this reason, maybe with a nicely thick toe cap with intent for use also by infielders, who also can drag that back foot forward quite often.
If you see a cleat with no added protection in the very front, assume it’s for outfielders. Closely watch the rear foot of high-level college fastpitch pitchers and you’ll notice the serious drag ~ sometimes even kicking up a cloud of dirt with each toss!
Heel & Arch Help
Once again, as stated above, that landing front foot takes an awful beating over the course of games, practices, and seasons. New pitchers might not be aware, but trust us, solid padding around the heel, and/or extra support at the arch of the foot, are worth the investment.
Separated from the heel and arch, up the leg just a little, are the ankles, vital joints for every softball player, especially the pitchers. As players get older and gain weight, more pressure is placed on the ankles.
To accommodate weight, and also if an injury occurs, parents might look into mid-height or high-top ankle styles on the cleats. (Note: full high-top cleats are pretty rare nowadays; manufacturers have figured out how to provide a lot of support without the goofy high-top look).
Metal vs. Molded-Rubber Spikes
Most older fastpitch softball pitchers will prefer metal spikes, if their league or travel team allows it. Metal cleats just grip the dirt more solidly, which pitchers prefer to control the stop of the lead foot during the whipped release of the ball. Consistency with the landing foot can be very important for control, especially up and down.
Molded rubber bottoms on cleats have come a long way, and do just fine for a lot of softball players. Just know that they are more “giving” ~ bendable ~ than rigid metal spikes that grip the dirt or grass. The spikes also can wear down faster than their metal counterparts.
There are some players who never make the switch, as their “plastics” did them just fine! (Note: many quality softball cleats offer versions with either type of spike system).
Most softball players dislike heavy shoes, but beware of super-light cleats because the material might not be the best quality or most durable.
For fastpitch softball pitchers, try to avoid any mesh on the cleat, or especially anywhere near the front toe, and inside seams. A little mesh for cooling and weight reduction might be okay on the outer sides, but again, don’t sacrifice quality for light weight. Cleats breaking down at the seams or joints don’t help the pitcher at all.
All-leather is popular for upper levels of fastpitch softball play, though high-tech synthetics are gaining ground. Depending on the quality of the leather, this could add some weight (as well as cost).
Light weights are good for running and sprinting, but not altogether important for pitchers except as an element to avoid fatigue. Getting tired is a really big deal for fastpitch softball pitchers, so try to avoid anything on the cleats (or elsewhere on the body) that might drain energy.
With all that, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of softball pitcher’s cleats!
Our Best Softball Cleats for Pitchers for 2023
1. Best Softball Cleats for Pitchers Overall ~ Mizuno Advanced Finch Franchise 7 Fastpitch Softball Cleat
If you’re brand new to fastpitch softball, there are only a handful of famous players you want to notice, and probably topping that list is Jennie Finch. The Olympic and college champion blesses what we think is the best softball cleats you can get for young fastpitch hurlers. It makes sense to see her name attached to our top choice for softball pitcher cleats: the Mizuno Advanced Finch Franchise 7 Fastpitch Softball Cleat.
You can tell that Mizuno designers tapped the knowledge of many players for its cleats, by just noticing the extra slice of material around the toes ~ it’s actually thicker on the inner side than the outer. That’s because it’s where these shoes wear the most, on the tip and inner side of the big toe.
There are many features to like with the Finch Franchise 7, but let’s lead with Mizuno’s engineering, specifically for softball play. Designed for durability along with comfort, with a full-length midsole for complete cushioning, and 9-spike outsole for easier pivoting and better stability in the fast softball game.
- Weight: 1.85 lbs.
- Material(s): Leather top, rubber bottom
- Special Feature: 9-spike advanced design outsole
What We Like
- Nicely priced for such quality and features
- Circular design of forward spikes, for easier pivoting in dirt
- Mizuno’s Wave technology for lively cushioning and solid stability
2. Best Softball Cleats for Pitchers Hard on the Toes ~ Under Armour Under Armour Women’s Glyde ST Softball Shoe
User reviews speak splendidly for the Under Armour Women’s Glyde ST Softball Shoe, a testament to the manufacturer’s excellence in delivering comfortable and quality shoes for a variety of sports. The company’s venture into the fastpitch softball world is no exception.
The toe cap with TPU film is designed specifically to resist abrasion on the toes, and players will appreciate the light weight along with a neat appearance. The mix of surfaces, including swirl and swooshing lines, give the ST a distinct, space-age look. On the bottom is a 9-spike design for the speed and power the game demands.
The Glyde ST comes at a nice price for the features, its buyers leave solid reviews and lots of them, and there are a lot of items infused to boost comfort including added cushion around the heel and tongue, and a plush sockliner designed to mold to the foot after repeated wear. All good stuff for those working hard in the circle.
- Weight: 13 oz.
- Material(s): Synthetic and textile
- Special Feature: Film made of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) over the toes
What We Like
- Sneaker-like comfort
- Soft suede-like panels to allow breathing and cooling in the midfoot
- Plenty of features for durability including that protected toe cap
3. Best Softball Cleats for Pitchers Who Demand Comfort ~ New Balance Women’s Fuse V2 Metal Softball Shoe
Ask any owner of New Balance shoes and they are most likely to mention cushioning and comfort with their shoes. It’s no differentt with the New Balance Women’s Fuse V2 Metal Softball Shoe, with plenty to make a pitcher’s feet feel good, while also showing off features to make the model durable in the dirt.
The first thing that caught our eye with the Fuse V2 was, of course, the toe. New Balance engineers tackle the toe-drag problem with not just one thick slice of synthetic around the toes, but another rather rippled layer that makes it look like it means business.
Something kind of neat here for pitchers super sensitive to fit, New Balance infused not just 1 but 2 elements for players to adjust lacing to their liking: a lace closure for a more snug and secure fit, and even a lace cage to tuck laces away and avoid trip-ups or accidents.
- Weight: 10.2 oz.
- Material(s): Synthetic, rubber sole
- Special Feature: Revlite midsole for a boost in cushioning and responsiveness
What We Like
- Very lightweight and cushioned
- Super toe protection
- Synthetic nubuck upper for solid durability
4. Best Softball Cleats for Pitchers Who Like Cushioning ~ Adidas Women’s Icon Bounce TPU
While a cleat model reviewed above includes a toe cap with a TPU film, the Adidas Women’s Icon Bounce TPU goes all out in its application of the plastic (officially known as thermoplastic polyurethane). The “bounce” feature is marketed heavily, and the manufacturer’s reputation for durability helps this cleat all the way around.
We’ll start once again by pointing to that toe cap. Adidas calls it the “Ironskin toe cap for superior abrasion resistance,” and what we notice in the marketing photos is how the company made that toe cap stand out with its bling compared with the rest of the cleat. Clearly, Adidas has a lot of confidence in this cleat.
Wondering what else is made of TPU? Here, they applied it to the outsole plate, a molded Stealtrax TPU aimed at bolstering baseball movements and performing like metal cleats would. The reviews for this cleat model are predominantly positive, and the price range is very good.
- Weight: 11.4 oz.
- Material(s): Synthetic and textile
- Special Feature: Ironskin toe cap for protection while toe-dragging on dirt
What We Like
- Very nice price range
- Extra “bounce” cushioning for the entire length of the feet
- Perforated vamp (top of cleat from base of toes on up the top of the foot) for ventilation and cooling
5. Best Softball Cleats for Pitchers for Traction ~ Nike Hyperdiamond 3 Keystone Softball Cleat
Nike’s Keystone line of baseball cleats is so very well established that we would be remiss to ignore the version specially designed for softball play. The Nike Hyperdiamond 3 Keystone Softball Cleat looks solid, and already has the positive reviews to back it up.
If this model is anything like the baseball version, it will be above-average in performance and durability. In actuality with Nike baseball and softball gear, it’s a safe brand to go with because you rarely find a model you dislike. There’s a little bit of everything for players, and this model is big on traction which almost everyone appreciates.
What we are unsure of is how it would perform in the circle of softball pitchers. The shoe is heavier than most reviewed on this list, which we’ll assume means it’s built to last. We would be interested in seeing some reviews about how the toe tip lasted. Of note are the 12 studs underneath, which pitchers may appreciate for stability.
- Weight: 3.45 lbs.
- Material(s): Synthetic leather upper; rubber sole
- Special Feature: Nike Fastflex outsole designed to boost natural human motions
What We Like
- 12-stud outsole for significant traction in dirt
- Soft foam midsole for above-average cushioning
- Keystone line’s consistency
6. Best Softball Cleats for Superior Pitching Comfort ~ New Balance Women’s Fresh Foam Velo V2 Molded Softball Shoe
In pretty much every review we write about sports shoes, we mention New Balance and comfort. While we already checked that box with the NB model above, we wanted to also include the New Balance Women’s Fresh Foam Velo V2 Molded Softball Shoe and its extra-special attention to making the cleats feel good in action.
For the demands of softball pitching, know that New Balance also applied plenty of TPU here, in both the bottom as well as in a special heel for support. Back to the toe tip, note the thick plastic at bottom, atop a thick layer of the synthetic exterior material.
There are a couple of elements we want to point out that make this cleat model a bit different. First is the manufacturer’s Comfort Collar, or padding around the ankle, which is no surprise considering the brand. But also note the hard-material (TPU) use on the heel, unusual for most cleats, and something that might prove very worthwhile for softball pitchers.
- Weight: n/a
- Material(s): Synthetic
- Special Feature: Fresh Foam midsole cushioning
What We Like
- Very well engineered and lightweight
- Perforated upper for ventilation and cooling
- TPU-molded cleats and heel insert for solid support
7. Best Softball Cleats for Pitcher’s Arch Support ~ Ringor Women’s Dynasty 2.0 Spike Cleats
If you’re researching softball cleats online, no doubt you will run across advertising for Ringor models. This company did its research on what softball players like, and it’s no different with the Ringor Women’s Dynasty 2.0 Spike Cleats.
There are a lot of features here you probably won’t find in any other softball cleats. Let’s start with one that’s probably overlooked considering all the other features: A removable insole, which is unusual, but also that it comes with anti-odor engineering which makes it really different.
This cleat model is also made of leather, which is different from all the models noted above, and it’s evident in the higher price range. It may very well be worth the investment, with that and the extra attention paid to arch support (see below), an area that troubles some softball pitchers.
- Weight: 3.15 lbs
- Material(s): Leather
- Special Feature: Fixed Arch Support Technology (F.A.S.T.) for comfort, support, and stability
What We Like
- Leather material to more naturally form around feet
- Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) sole construction for more flexibility than materials mostly used in that area
- Full-length EVA midsole that makes shoe perform like a running shoe
8. Best Softball Cleats for Pitching Toe Protection ~ Ringor Women’s Flite Molded Pitching Softball Cleats
After all this focus on toe plates, the first thing anyone will notice about the Ringor Women’s Flite Molded Pitching Softball Cleats is the … thick ring around the toes! This manufacturer has gone above and beyond to understand softball play and specific needs; we only drop this model down on our list because it’s too early to tell how it performs long-term.
But those tired of buying new cleats every year due to toe holes will be attracted to that thick and very noticeable ring around the entirety of the toe area ~ officially called Pro-TecToes. The hard-rubber material is aimed at serving pitchers and catchers better than regular old cleats. That Ringor added “pitching” to the model name is a clear indication of where the company wanted to go here.
Ringor at times adds “AeroLite” to the beginning of the model’s name, so its low weight is something to consider (though it’s not close to the lightest cleats on our list). Also of note is engineering attention to the severe starting and stopping involved with pitching.
- Weight: 2.05 lbs.
- Material(s): n/a
- Special Feature: Pro-Tec Toes
What We Like
- Extra attention to toe-cap protection
- Flex-Point engineering for comfort during accelerating and decelerating, which is common in fastpitch softball pitching
- Ring-grip cleat pattern for easier pivoting and less stress on the joints
Deep Insight into Fastpitch Softball Pitching and Cleats
For the uninitiated, the pitcher position in fastpitch softball is unlike any other in diamond sports, whether that means baseball or softball. The violent “windmill” motion supported by a strong push-off, full-body momentum, hip-snap, and unique releases on the yellow ball are not something an average human being can do without some guidance.
Fastpitch softball players are made, at least at the beginning, because almost all need a pitching coach or instructor, whether paid or not. It’s important to get the windmill pitching motion down and practiced well, to ease the pressure on the player’s muscles and joints.
What new parents might be unaware of is the extreme physical demand pitching places on a player’s knees, ankles, and feet.
Watch upper-level fastpitch softball pitchers and soon you’ll notice just how violent the delivery action can be. We mention all this to nudge parents to think about their little player’s feet very carefully, because nothing gets youngsters out of games faster than being uncomfortable.
A lot was mentioned above about toe caps, because softball pitchers drag that back foot even harder than baseball pitchers. Part of this is because softball pitchers depend more on fast hip-shifting action, compared with baseball hurlers. Their rear feet don’t just drag in a straight line; most often, it curves.
All that said, keep these things in mind when looking at fastpitch softball cleats for pitchers:
- Do the toes look protected?
- What’s the weight? (Pitching is strenuous, and heaviness speeds up fatigue)
- Will the pitcher be comfortable with the spikes (e.g. molded rubber or metal)?
- Is there any extra support for the arch, or heel area?
- Does it look cool?