On The Sideline: Softball

To most people, softball and baseball are interchangeable. The only differences they see are the different dimensions of the ball used and the fact that men play baseball and women play softball.

They are wrong.

While the basic rules of the game are the same – three strikes equal an out, three outs an inning – there are several key differences that make a big impact on the strategy used to win.

As mentioned above, the easiest difference to see is with the ball used. A softball is about three inches bigger than a baseball in diameter, weighs about two pounds more and is yellow instead of white.

The fields are also different, due to the differences in the balls. The distance between bases on a softball diamond is 60 feet, compared to baseball’s 90 feet. In addition, a baseball pitcher stands 60 feet away from the batter, while a softball pitcher stands only 43 feet away.

Softball pitchers do not stand on a mound like baseball pitchers, but are on the same level as the batter. Softball is also played on an all-dirt infield, while baseball infields are covered in grass.

Probably the most visible difference during games is the manner in which the ball is pitched. Softball pitchers must pitch underhand, “windmill” style. Pitching this way, in addition to the short distance between pitcher and batter, makes finesse pitching much more effective in softball than in baseball, where fastballs rule.

With these differences, softball often becomes a “small ball” focused game, with lots of bunting, slap-hitting and stealing. In a typical game, anytime there is a runner on first and no outs, the next batter will bunt, sacrificing themselves for an out in order to move the runner to second.

Another big difference between baseball and softball occurs when taking a lead off a base. In baseball, runners can take a lead at any time the ball is in play, or any time when time is not called. In softball, runners can only leave the base after the pitcher has released the ball. If a runner leaves early, they are out.

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