Learn what differences separate baseball and softball.
While baseball and softball have much in common, they are two very different sports. Softball is not baseball for girls with a smaller field, as many people believe. The Olympics and court rulings have distinguished baseball and softball as separate sports, explains the Women's Sports Foundation.
According to Baseball-Rules.org, baseball and softball are both games played on fields with a home base and three other bases. In both games, a pitcher throws the ball toward the batter, who stands at the plate. Foul lines divide the field, so players can determine whether the ball is in play. The equipment to play baseball and softball is also similar. Both baseball and softball use balls, bats and gloves. The players strike the ball with the bat to advance around the field to home base. Players attempt to catch the ball using gloves.
In general, baseball pitches are harder and faster than softball pitches. Softball players can throw the ball at about 65 miles per hour, compared to 90 miles per hour for baseball pitchers. Baseball has only a fast pitch, while softball has three types of pitches: fast, slow and modified. Softball players often pitch underhanded with a windmill-style motion. Baseball players are only allowed to pitch over-handed. The ball often arcs into the air in softball. It does not do so in baseball. However, both sports can contain different types of pitches. For example, softball pitchers may pitch curveballs and drop balls, similar to baseball players.
Female softball pitchers stand closer to the plate -- 40 feet away for a fast pitch and 50 feet away for a slow pitch. Men's soft pitch is the same as women's soft pitch, but men pitch 46 feet from the play in fast pitch softball. Baseball pitchers stand 60 feet, six inches away from the plate
Pitchers leave the pitching rubber in softball, but not in baseball. Because softball players step toward the plate when they pitch, batters have little reaction time. Still, the force of the bat hitting the softball has actually been measured as greater than the force of the bat hitting a baseball.
Softball fields differ from baseball fields in the following ways:
While both baseball and softball use a ball and bat, these key pieces of equipment have different dimensions, depending on the sport.