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Thread: Defensive face mask comparison?

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    I'm a fan Renntiger's Avatar
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    Default Defensive face mask comparison?

    Has anyone had any experience with the (relatively) new Rip It Defense Guard?

    I had bought the Game Face (both sizes) and SportShields Defender, but my DD couldn't stand wearing any of them (neither do her teammates, to whom I had offered these same masks). She(they) complained that her(their) vision was obstructed, and the contact points (forehead, chin) became very uncomfortable once she(they) started sweating. No one managed to keep these on for more than an inning or two, not even a girl who had caught a short hop in the face during a game, to whom I loaned one of my masks to try on for size (when I asked her where my mask was a few games later, as she was not wearing it, she told me she tossed it! I guess she thought it was a free gift).

    Since the batters we now face are more and more built like Crystl Bustos, I am very worried that this would increasingly become a game of Russian roulette for my DD, whose reflexes are not exactly lightning-like. Any other occupation where you are facing fast moving hard projectiles from 35 ft away would be considered hazardous enough to warrant all manners of government-mandated safety gears. I've seen more than enough close-calls even at the 12 U - 14 U level to ignore this very real potential for disaster in the years to come. So this mask thing has become a kind of sword of Damocles for me, always hanging over my head.

    Rip-It claims that their alloy cage Defense Guard offers better vision than the polycarbonate masks. Does this produce a noticeable difference in practice for those who have tried on different masks and compared them against each other? More importantly, is the Defense Guard more comfortable to wear than the other models? This mask is priced much higher than most batting helmets. I'd hate to collect another promising gadget only to have it sit in our already full equipment closet.

    Thanks for any feedback!
    GT

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    Softball Junkie jinjet95's Avatar
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    My daughter plays 14U and has tried both masks. She much prefers the Rip-it over the Game Face. The Game Face is slightly lighter, but the Rip-It has a much greater field of vision. She's never complained of discomfort when she sweats. All of the infielders on her team are asked to wear a mask. The pitcher, and both corners are required to wear one. A pitcher on an 18U team in our club took a nasty line drive to the face that resulted in multiple surgeries. The injury was similar to the one Juan Encarnacion suffered. She won't be able to play softball again.

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    Certified softball maniac PA SB Dad's Avatar
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    My daughter had the same complaints about the GameFace and so she never wore it (and ultimately lost it).

    One day she got a black eye on a bad hop, and so I went shopping for a new one. I found the Bangerz Fielders Mask and she loves it (though she probably would have loved the GameFace at that point as well). It has a floating chin cup and seems to be more comfortable than the GameFace or the D-Mask. I haven't seen too many kids wearing this one, but it is a nice mask. BANGERZ Sports Eye Protection

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    I can talk softball all day mudbug's Avatar
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    Only comment is the Rip-it is heavy, and that bothers some.

    My DD has a D-mask, and tolerates it, wont play without it at 3B. HOT in summer though since its so close to face, 100 degree days are brutal, and gets muddy inside from dirt and sweat, but vision is pretty good.

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    Wannabe Duck Boat Owner Greenmonsters's Avatar
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    DD wears the Rip It when playing 3B or 1B. She tried on the DMask and Gameface but best visibility was w/ the Rip It. Weight was not an issue b/c she's primarily a catcher so anything else is light by comparison.

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    Checking out the clubhouse ToddTX's Avatar
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    (I copied these from a couple of posts I made in another thread on this topic in the Softball Discussions forum.)

    My daughter actually uses a pair of women's lacrosse "goggles" and mouthguard. This solution provides good protection to the most sensitive areas of her face, while still being incredibly comfortable. She likes it because it looks cooler and is much more comfortable when it is 90+ degrees and 80%+ humidity. It also doesn't slide around when she gets hot and sweaty, like many of the full masks do. I think Bangerz is the only company marketing this style of mask specifically for softball/baseball. We got hers from STX Lacrosse. it was pricier than a plastic mask, but made out of titanium so it is very light and very strong.

    Another thing about the mask we got, is that the padding is made out of silicone so it is easy to clean and doesn't cause her face to break from all of the soaked up sweat.

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    Checking out the clubhouse a softball life for me's Avatar
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    My DD was the same...tried the Defender and hated it. Really, the pressure on the forehead hurt no matter how we adjusted it. Bought the Game Face and she could barely see. Last spring we saw a few girls on another team wearing the Rip-it. She was mortified as I walked right up to one of the girls who was warming up and asked about it.

    I don't think the Rip-it is that heavy and she has good visibility. She does complain when it's really hot outside but if she pitches 1-2-3, she gets to take it off faster . Now all the masked girls in our organization wear the Rip-it.

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    Abby's Dad FJRGerry's Avatar
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    Default STX Lacrosse Ti Mask

    I checked out the STX titanium lacrosse mask at

    STX Lacrosse

    And noticed the following:

    "Meets ASTM F803-03 requirements for women's lacrosse (60mph ball impact test)"

    The mask may be good for fielders, but I don't think if offers enough protection for the pitcher, or 3b, against a hard hit line drive.

    My daughter's been using the Gameface the last two years and, once used to it, doesn't find it obtrusive. She pitches fine with it and has used it playing SS & 2B. I may get her a lacrosse mask for when playing other positions though.

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    Checking out the clubhouse ToddTX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FJRGerry View Post
    I checked out the STX titanium lacrosse mask at

    STX Lacrosse

    And noticed the following:

    "Meets ASTM F803-03 requirements for women's lacrosse (60mph ball impact test)"

    The mask may be good for fielders, but I don't think if offers enough protection for the pitcher, or 3b, against a hard hit line drive.
    Here's the thing. I contacted the manufacturers of some of the other masks and asked what testing standards they met. And the answer is none! I even specifically asked about the ASTM 803 requirements for baseball eye protection. Rip-It said that their defender mask is a modified version of their batting mask, which meets NOCSAE standards. However, if you actually look at the NOCSAE standards, they are only for impacts up to 67 mph with a baseball and 56 mph with a softball. Gameface did claim that their mask could withstand a 300mph impact from a softball, but I'm going to call shenanigans without some evidence to back that up.

    My point is that there seem to be NO independent testing certifications being used by defensive facemask manufacturers for baseball/softball. The lacrosse mask has been independently certified to protect the eyes from a MINIMUM impact of 60 mph. Having examined the mask, and considering the materials and level of independent testing, I feel confident that the mask can withstand any impact my daughter is likely to experience on the rubber.

    This does lead me to a broader point. In my opinion, the only way wide acceptance and use of eye protection in the field will occur is if equipment manufacturers and and the softball community push for a greater combination of form, function, and comfort. Also, the use of independent testing standards for eye protection by these manufacturers must be demanded by the softball community. There are not currently specific "defensive fielder facemask" standards by any organization that I can find, but there are ASTM 803 specifications for eye protection for baseball/softball that include "full or partial face shields". I tried to do as much research as I could before buying my daughter a mask and was a bit dismayed with what I saw compared to other protective equipment, both in and out of softball.

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