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There are a lot of things in common between baseball and softball. Most children have played both growing up. Having a local league for either baseball or softball is very common in America and can be played at all ages. As skills develop and children mature, the differences between the two sports become very clear. If you are wondering which sport is harder to play, you have come to the right place. We have researched the challenges in both sports and you might be surprised at what we’ve concluded!
It can be hard to admit that one sport is harder or easier to play if you have only played one and not the other. Most athletes believe that the sport they play is the toughest. However, due to many factors, the game of softball is harder to play than baseball. Several contributions to softball requiring more skill include:
- The speed of the pitch
- The difference in fields
- The variation in equipment used
The truth is that softball has a lot of differences from baseball that most people do not realize. Baseball is more popular and known as an “all-American’ sport, so it tends to get more respect among players and fans. The game of softball deserves more recognition, and hopefully, this article does just that!
Pitching in Softball Vs. Baseball
Throwing a baseball is almost a right of passage as an American child. Nearly every family or neighborhood BBQ had someone with a mitt and a ball. It is quite relaxing to toss a baseball back and forth. Most baseball pitches do not demand a fast speed like softball pitches do.
There are many pitches in baseball that are used because of the slow speed. The slowest pitches thrown in baseball is known as the change-up. The change-up became common because it is an off-speed pitch and can confuse the batters. The Major League Baseball website provides plenty of pitch types; check out the glossary found here.
Are pitches different for baseball and softball?
The pitch style is different because baseball pitchers are known to throw overhand, while softball pitchers throw underhand. There seems to be a significant amount of variation for overhand versus underhand.
Compared to the Major League Baseball’s glossary of baseball pitch types, there are really five common pitches in softball. They are known as the fastball, the change-up, the drop pitch, the curveball, the rise ball, and the huddle-up. Like the baseball change-up pitch, softball change-up is thrown to cause an easy strike by batters expecting a fastball.
Overall, the differences lie in the way the ball is thrown and how many choices of pitches a pitcher has to use for each batter. Baseball has a large amount to choose from, and therefore each pitcher can develop a unique style and form. Softball pitchers are limited to five popular pitches, and can only be distinguished by the speed of a pitch.
The Field Differences
Some of you may be thinking that a field is a field, no matter the sport. However, there are big differences in the size and challenges a field can add to a sport. For instance, a baseball field is much larger than a softball field.
Softball fields are smaller than baseball fields, which is evident in the space designated between the bases. The bases in softball measure 60-feet apart. The bases in a baseball field measure 90-feet apart. The format in which the bases are laid out is the same in both sports; however, the softball field’s compactness makes it more difficult for players to get on base.
Additionally, the softball pitching mounds are not raised off the ground like they are in baseball. Softball pitchers are required to stay within a pitching area when throwing. The pitching distance to home plate from the mound is also about 35- to 43-feet away, much shorter than baseball. This means that a 70-mile-per-hour (MPH) pitch in softball is equivalent to a 95-mile-per-hour (MPH) pitch in baseball.
What Kind of Equipment is Used in Softball Vs. Baseball?
Softball and baseball share a lot of fundamentals. The fields are laid out the same; the equipment is somewhat the same. The real difference in the equipment used in either sport is the size.
Softball bats Vs. baseball bats
The intended purpose for either bat is the same. Softball bats are typically longer than baseball bats. Although baseball bats are thicker and have a heavier weight than those used in softball. Softball bats are made of wood, metal, and various composites or alloy. Professional baseball players are only allowed wooden bats.
Are baseballs and softballs really that different?
Yes! Baseballs have a circumference of 9-inches. Baseballs are also white with red stitching. Softballs are 12-inches in circumference, colored yellow, and much softer. Softballs weigh about 7-ounces compared to baseballs’ weighing 5.25-ounces.
Why is a softball yellow?
Is there any real reason to differentiate a baseball and a softball? The truth is that the bright yellow softball is easier to see. The batter’s box and the pitching mound are about 14-feet shorter in softball than baseball. This does not give the batter much time to react to the pitch. Therefore, a brighter and bigger target is necessary.
Softball Gloves Vs. Baseball Gloves
To make up for the difference in ball sizes, a regulation softball glove has a deeper pocket to keep the ball inside. Baseball gloves are a little longer in length and tend to be more shallow. For further reading, check out “How To Break In A New Softball Glove [6 Methods].”
Do you wear cleats in softball?
An important part of playing any sport is having the right kind of shoes. For softball and baseball, players wear turf cleats. Turf cleats are a specialized shoe with rubber nubs on the bottom. The nubs or even tread patterns make the shoe look more like sneakers than spikes.
The purpose of wearing turf cleats is to increase traction, prevent field damage, and prevent injury. Spikey cleats can puncture the ground, which is great for a grassy field like in soccer. On a baseball or softball field, a player needs to be able to stop, turn, and maneuver without spikes digging into the field. Therefore, the best kind of baseball and softball shoes are turf cleats with optimum traction and control of movements.
Do you have the right gear? Check out “Do You Need Cleats For Softball?”
Brief History of Softball
The Amateur Softball Association of America was organized in 1933. Regular regional and world championship tournaments were regularly held for both men and women. The fundamentals for softball have always been the same as the rules of baseball.
Although playing a softball game lasts only seven innings, the batting and fielding strategies are similar to those in a nine-inning baseball game. The pitching distance for men is 46-feet from the batter’s box, while women’s distance is 43-feet.
Do women play baseball?
As of 2004, the USA Baseball Women’s National Team was established. The first 18-player team that was chosen went on to win the gold medal in the first-ever International Baseball Federation (IBAF) Women’s World Cup in Edmonton, Canada. In short, yes. Women have the ability to play baseball, both recreationally and professionally.
Do men play softball?
Professional men’s teams are primarily in baseball; however, there are amateur softball associations such as USA Softball (USAS), a male league dedicated to softball. Most softball associations for men are either private or public leagues that allow for nonprofessional athletes to have the opportunity to take part in the sport.
Overall, baseball and softball have many commonalities that be easily confusing to those unfamiliar with either game. Baseball fields are larger than softball fields, which allows for a slower reaction time. The pitching variations are also more complex in baseball and create more pitchers’ opportunity to develop a unique style. The smaller fields and larger ball circumferences in softball require more skill to pitch and hit because there is less than half the time to decide to swing compared to a baseball player’s time. So, next time someone asks which sport is harder to play…tell them softball!