Differences between Baseball and Softball; Explained

We are back to talk about baseball and softball. Softball and baseball have multiple similarities as well as differences in how it played and the equipment used. The game uses bats, balls, and gloves, but the type and how it’s played is different.

To understand the particular aspect of either sport and how different they are from each other, I urge you to continue reading. I will separate the elements for you all readers’ convenience.

Difference between Baseball and Softball fields

One of the most apparent and easy-to-see differences between the two sports is their field size. Fields of both sports can differ according to the level of play and the player’s age.

Generally speaking, the dimension of softball fields is smaller by a significant amount. This amount is visible in the distance between the plates and between the home plate and fence.

The layout of the field is the same for both softball and baseball. In softball, the distance separating the bases is 60 feet 6 inches, whereas the base distance for baseball is 90 feet. Home plate to outfield fence in softball clock in at 200-230 ft and in baseball home plate to center field is 400ft. The outfield fence distance in other leagues may be different.

Softball has a warning track of about 10ft, while for baseball, it is 15ft. This means that in softball, the margin for error is smaller when it comes to fielding. So all you softballers out there, be careful.

Differences between Softball and Baseball pitchers throw

Along with the field, another distinct difference between the two sports is pitching. It pretty easy to identify a baseball pitcher and softball pitcher. From the ball to the mound and how the ball flies, it’s all exclusive.   

First of all, it’s the pitching distance that is different. Softball has a pitching distance of 43 feet while being on a flat circle. In comparison, baseball has an elevated mound and is 60ft 6’’ from home plate.

Now let’s talk about the pitching style differences between softball and baseball. In softball, only underhand throws happen. In baseball, however, overhand and sidearm are the norm. While it’s not denied in the rulebooks, it’s unspoken that underarm throw in baseball is not part of the norm.

Different pitches give different effects, am I right? So, how dissimilar are the throws from one another? Well, a softball thrown from 43ft will reach about 65-70mph. In terms of age, the average baseball speed goes as high as 95mph, according to efastball.   

Here is some exciting information about softball pitcher throws. In slow pitch softball leagues, there are some rules about pitching height. The pitching style in that league needs to account for pitchers throw height. The height needs to be about 6-12ft.

If the pitchers throw the ball too flat or too high, then the umpire can deem the softball pitchers throw illegal. There are, however, softball leagues with unlimited height. What this means is that softball pitchers can throw as high as he/she wants without penalties.

As the distance from the pitching mound to the batter is short, it is harder to hit a ball coming at chest height. It is something that takes the game apart from baseball, according to some.

The Ball

The difference in other sections made ball design particular for the two sports. The particulars of the ball design include the material, circumference, and color as well.

For information on the standardized manufacturing process, please go and read the other article How much does a baseball weigh: Has a surprising answer.

Now onto how a softball is made. Similar to baseball, it has three parts: center/core, cover, and stitching. Most softball core is a blend of polyurethane, but some have cork as well. Next, is the surface, which is either made up of leather and or rubber products. Finally comes the stitches made from red yarn.

A standard MLB baseball is around 9.00-9.25 inches in circumference with an average weight of 5.00-5.25 ounces. On the other hand, a softball has a circumference of 11.88-12.13 inches and an average weight of 6.25-7.00 ounces. You can find information about baseball weight.

Ball design changes the way it flies. The stitches cause wind flow around the ball to change by way of drag. This drag results in speed vary, and size also plays a factor. With increased length and stitches, a softball isn’t able to travel far.

While the speed of the ball is low, it’s still comparable. With a shorter distance from the mound to the home plate, the flow velocity of a softball can be close to baseball.  

The Difference Between Baseball and Softball bats

Similar to field layout the bats used in the two sports have subtle differences. Typically the bats used in baseball are longer with a larger diameter and of heavier weight.

Softball bats are a blend of composite materials, wood, and various metal alloys. Amateur baseball is the same as softball. As a rule of thumb, professional or MLB batters use only wooden baseball bats.

Most of the wooden bats in professional baseball games are usually made up of wood from the ash tree. Other woods can be alternatives, such as maple or bamboo. In recent years, hickory, a favorite option, has fallen out of favor due to its weight.

Game length Difference between Baseball and Softball

Game length equals how fun a game might be for some. A regulation baseball game is for nine innings with extra innings if a game becomes tied. Softball, instead of nine innings, has seven innings also with extra innings.

On top of having fewer regulation innings, softball games can end early if the run score for one team is higher than the other. For example, if one team were to have 10 lead before three innings or five lead before seven innings, that team is the winning team.

For additional information on the length of a baseball game, please read the article How long is a Baseball game: Well, it varies.

Rule Differences between Baseball and Softball

We can all agree that the most significant appeal of baseball other than home runs are base stealing. In baseball, runners can attempt base stealing whenever they are able. In softball, base stealing is a thing as well, but it’s done in another manner. 

Also in softball, to steal a base, a runner must wait for the ball to leave the pitcher’s hand. That’s weird, or is it just me? In the case of the adult league, softball players usually aren’t even allowed to steal bases!

While some leagues do allow base stealing in softball, runners still need the ball to leave the pitcher.

In a fast pitch softball game, when a pitcher goes inside the pitching circle, all the runners on base must return to their base. Alternatively, they can attempt to steal a base.

Going back and forth between the baseline is a thing in baseball; however, it isn’t allowed in softball. Doing so in softball will result in the umpire calling that runner on out. This rule is something unique to softball, as baseball has no such rule.

Adult /Professional softball is with ten players as opposed to nine players in baseball. With this extra player, most adult league teams use four outfielders, But there is an alternative that isn’t used that often.

The alternative is when a player stands behind the second baseman called the “rover.” Along with these placement changes from softball, there are also other methods used that increase game pace.

How softball shorten their games

A method used to shorten the game in softball is the usage of “one to waste” and “none to waste” practice. The “one to waste” method is about a batter getting a foul with two strikes. With the second foul with two strikes, that batter is out.

On the other hand, the “none to waste” is about a batter is being outed after a foul with two strikes. Alongside these practices, some leagues also use the 1-and-1 count start-at-bat to speed up the game.

One of the most significant dissimilarities between baseball and softball is that adult softball uses double bags on first base. The double bag system works by having two bases connected to one another, with one in fair and foul territory.

When a runner goes through first base, he/she needs to come into contact with the foul territory base. The foul territory base is bright in color, such as orange for easy spotting.

Fielders need to contact the white, fair territory base to call out a runner in a force play. The double bags are often used to prevent collisions. The bases in baseball and softball are 15’’ long and 3.5’’ thick for those that don’t know it.

Differences in Baseball and Softball players salaries

Both sports baseball and softball are playable at the professional levels. Yet, the differences between the salaries for the professionals are pretty outstanding.

A male MLB player’s salaries will be in the ballpark of four million dollars a year. While a female softball player, softball mainly played by females, from National Pro Fastpitch gets only about 5000-6000 dollars a year. Alongside the salaries, the opportunities are also limited for softball players. Therefore girls have to play softball since baseball isn’t an option for them.

The discrepancies between the two salaries are rather severe. The female softball players are being taken for granted, at least they are to me. Much change needs to happen in the world of softball to change the differences. 

To know more about Baseball vs Softball watch this video from Youtube channel
Clarke University

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