7 Differences Between Softball and Baseball
baseball differences between softball and baseball softball

7 Differences Between Softball and Baseball

Anyone who has an appreciation for the game of baseball probably has at least a passing understanding of its sibling sport - softball. If not, then you've come to the right place. Softball and baseball are two different sports, but many people aren't sure of the key differences that make them so different. This article will go over the seven main differences between softball and baseball, and then break down how the sports are played!

differences between softball and baseball in blog photo


The Field of Play

The field of play in softball is much smaller than in baseball. In softball, the bases are only 60 feet apart, whereas in baseball they are 90 feet apart. The pitcher's mound is also only 35 feet from home plate in softball, compared to 60 feet in baseball. These dimensions make the game of softball much faster-paced than baseball.

Another difference in the field of play is that there is no infield fly rule in softball. This means that the defense has to be more alert, as pop-ups can fall in for hits much more easily.


Who Uses Bigger Bats?

One of the main differences between softball and baseball bats is their size. Softball bats are typically much longer and heavier than baseball bats, making them better suited for hitting balls that are softer and slower. Baseball bats are typically shorter and lighter, making them better suited for hitting hard, fast balls.

Who Uses Larger Balls?

Softballs are generally larger than baseballs, with a circumference of around 9 to 10 inches. Baseballs have a smaller circumference of around 7 to 8 inches. The larger ball size of a softball makes it easier to hit, which is one of the reasons why softball is often considered a feminine sport, but it can be played by anyone. 

However, the increased size also means that softball pitchers can’t throw as fast as baseball pitchers. A softball weighs around 7 ounces while the baseball weighs around 5.25 ounces.

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Base Running

Base running is a key aspect of both softball and baseball, but there are some key differences between softball and baseball base running. In both sports, most of the time, runners cannot leave a base until the ball has been hit by the batter. However, there is one circumstance where this rule does not apply and that is called “lead offs”.

A "lead off" is the distance a player can stand off the base towards the next base he or she plans to run towards when the ball is hit by the upcoming batter. Many players engage in a "lead off" when they're planning to try and steal, which means make it to a base in between pitches/hits. The way lead offs are conducted varies slightly between softball and baseball. 

In baseball, the lead runner can stand six to ten feet off the base between pitches. However, they cannot run towards the next base until the pitcher commits to throwing the ball. In softball, lead offs are typically not permitted and the pitcher must release the ball before the runner can steal a base. So, base running is an important difference between both sports.


The Length of the Games

The length of a game in baseball is nine innings. In softball, the length of a game is seven innings. Both teams have six outs per inning - three per team, per half.

In both sports, each team must bat twice per half (six out at bat). The first time around, players bat in order from first to sixth (or vice versa) and get three outs for each time at bat. After that, teams switch sides to start their next half inning and go through their normal order again until all nine innings have been played out.


Number of Players

Baseball and Softball are team sports played between two teams. However, when it comes to the number of players in baseball and softball, they are different in school leagues and major leagues.

Players in School League

In baseball, each team typically has nine players that take the field. Meanwhile, in softball, each team usually has ten players that take the field. The difference in player numbers can impact the strategy and gameplay of each game.

Players in Major League

The majority of professional baseball teams have a team size of around 22-28 players. On the other hand, in major league softball, the number of player is the same as it is in school leagues, 10. However, if we are talking about the National Fast pitch League of softball, these teams are larger. Each team has 16-28 players


difference between softball and baseball in blog photo of pitcher

Pitching in softball is different from pitching in baseball in a few ways. For one, the softball is larger than the baseball, and thus, requires a different grip. The pitching motion is also different: instead of an overhand motion, softball pitchers use an underhanded motion. This puts less stress on the shoulder and makes it easier to control the ball.

Softball vs. Baseball: Which is Better?

It depends on the interest of the player – some like baseball while others like softball. These are some things to consider when deciding which sport you'd want to learn more about and maybe even play

Skills:  Both sports require quick reflexes and good hand eye coordination. This is because the three primary skills you'll engage in are throwing, catching, and running. Keep this in mind when deciding if these sports are best for you. Consider practicing at home to enhance your skills first!

Expenses: Pricing and equipment can vary depending on which sport you choose. Baseball generally requires more expensive equipment, so if you're working with a low budget, softball may be the better option.

Duration: Softball games often last much longer than baseball games do, sometimes as long as 2 hours! However, both sports can be played for shorter or longer periods of time depending on the age group and level of competition.

Gender: Softball is typically played by girls while baseball is typically played by boys.


Final Thoughts

So, there you have it! Seven differences between softball and baseball. While both sports are incredibly popular and enjoyable to play, there are definitely some key distinctions between the two. Softball is often seen as a more relaxed version of baseball, with slightly different set of rules. Nevertheless, both sports require skill, stamina, and teamwork to be successful. So whatever your preference may be, make sure you enjoy the game and have fun!