Fast Pitch Softball: Things You May Not Know
The game of softball was invented in 1887 in Chicago. Because it was originally played indoors, it was referred to as “indoor baseball” until 1926, when the game was officially called “softball.” The name suggests that the ball is soft, but in reality, a fastpitch softball is as hard as a baseball. Slow pitch baseballs can be a bit softer.
Due to softball’s original indoor location, the original dimensions of its playing area were smaller than those of a baseball field. The size has remained constant: the bases, at the corners of a diamond, are 60′ apart compared to 90′ in baseball. Consequently, the distance from the pitcher’s plate to home plate is also shorter: 46′ for men and 43′ for women compared to 60′ 6″ in baseball. Regulation fastpitch softball games are 7 innings compared to baseball’s 9.
Fastpitch softballs are slightly larger than baseballs and can be 11″ or 12″ in diameter. A baseball is about 9″. When softball was invented, a 16″ ball was used and outfielders did not wear gloves. That tradition continues today in Chicago. Fastpitch baseballs weigh 6.5 ounces, while baseballs weigh 5 ounces. While softballs may be white like baseballs, since 2002 the official color of the fastpitch softball has been “optic yellow”, similar to tennis balls.
Unlike baseball, fastpitch softball bats cannot be made of wood. Regulations require bats to be made of aluminum. Softball (fast pitch) gloves are slightly larger than baseball gloves to accommodate larger softballs.
One of the obvious differences between softball and baseball is the way the ball is delivered to the batter. In fastpitch softball, the pitcher throws the ball in an underhand or windmill motion. But the speed of the ball and the challenge it presents to the hitter is uncannily similar to baseball! It is common for fastpitch softball pitchers to reach speeds of 60 mph or more with their pitches. A 73 mph throw was recorded at the 1996 Summer Olympics, and at the collegiate level, speeds of 65 to 70 mph are common. Fastpitch pitchers can also make the ball move in many different ways, like a baseball pitcher; pitchers at the high school level and above can throw curveballs and sliders underhandedly. Because fastpitch softball’s pitching distance is 14″ or 17″ shorter than the distance for baseball, a softball traveling at 60-70 mph allows the batter about the same reaction time as in fastpitch softball. the baseball. By the way, in both sports, the batter has about a half a second or less to decide whether to swing or not!
Slow pitch softball is played more widely than the fast pitch variety. The pitches are delivered slowly to the batter in a high arc that makes contact easier. The game requires less skill to play than fastpitch softball. In addition, the rules can be modified to make the game more accessible to people of all levels and ages.
At the collegiate level, the NCAA governs intercollegiate play. From July 11-14, 2013, players from around the world competed in the 2013 Softball World Cup, which is a fast pitch tournament involving 5 countries: Japan, Canada, USA, Puerto Rico, and Australia. This was the eighth World Cup and the games were played in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
While a baseball is slightly larger than a softball, a fastpitch baseball isn’t necessarily easier to hit. The shorter launching distance, comparable ball speed and variety of pitches make the matchup between pitcher and hitter in both sports very similar. There is a world of difference between slow-pitch softball and baseball, but the gap between fast-pitch softball and baseball in regards to the pitcher-hitter matchup is negligible.