The bases are loaded. We are about to take you onto the field of play as we explore the similarities and differences between softball and baseball. From a cursory prospective, these games appear to be one and the same – but that's not the case. 888 Sport New Jersey is about pitch you the differences between softball and baseball. Get ready to … batter up!

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Softball Rules of Play

Softball vs Baseball

The softball field is smaller than a typical baseball field, making it seemingly ‘easier’ to hit home runs. In softball, the distance from the homerun fence from home plate measure between 190 feet and 250 feet. The warning track is approximately 10 feet. From home plate to the pitcher’s mound, the distance will vary for women's fast pitch and men's fast pitch. For women, it's 43 feet (18+ years of age), and for men 18+ years of age it's around 46 feet. The distance to the homerun fence can range between 200 feet in 225 feet for high school and college, but some fields can be 250 feet to the homerun fence from the home plate.

* 9 players per team take turns batting and fielding
* The goal is to score runs by moving from first base to home
* The defending team requires 3 outs
* The winning team is the one with the most runs after 7 innings

In softball, there are 4 bases. These include first base, second base, third base, and home plate. The distance between each ranges between 45 feet – 60 feet. Each of the bases forms part of a diamond shape. Within the diamond is the pitching plate. That's where the underarm pitching takes place to the batters. A foul ball is one which is hit outside of first base, or outside of third base.

In softball, runners can be ruled out if a fielder catches the ball before a runner/batter gets to that base. If a batter hits a ball up in the air and it gets caught, the batter is out. If a runner/ batter is running between bases and is tapped by a fielder, the runner/batter can be given out. Naturally, 3 strikes for a team is an automatic out for a batter. There is another technical term which states that if a runner/batter advances 3 feet + beyond the baseline, they can be given out.

Baseball Rules of Play

In Major League Baseball the infield must measure 90 feet on each side of the square. The distance between the home plate and the nearest fence must be at least 325 feet (left-field foul pole and right-field foul pole). The distance between the home plate and the nearest fence, obstruction, or stand in the center field must be 400 feet. The pitcher's plate features a white rubber that is 10 inches above the height of the home plate and the pitcher's plate must measure 24" x 6".

* There are 2 teams comprising 9 players per team, with 9 innings in play
* The visiting team hits the top of the innings and the home team hits at the bottom of the innings.
* The baseball pitcher throws overhand at the batter who then attempts to hit the ball into the field of play.
* Runs are scored by hitting the ball, or advancing towards the next base, ultimately completing a run in a counterclockwise fashion.
* As soon as a batter hits the ball, the batter becomes a runner and must complete a round by moving from 1st base to 2nd base, to 3rd base to Homebase.
* Defensive teams can get opposition batters out by having them hit the ball in the air and catch them before the ball bounces, or by tagging/touching a player who is running between bases.
* If 3 strikes are recorded, the batter is out. Once 3 batters/runners or out, the teams switch
* The objective is to score more runs than your opponents – that’s how wins are recorded

Major Differences between Softball and Baseball

As you can tell, the size of the field is clearly different, with a baseball field being much bigger than a softball field. Also, in softball there are underhanded pitches, while in baseball the pitches are overhand. This has major implications for the speed at which the ball is delivered. Upon closer inspection, you will notice that the pitch in baseball is delivered from an elevated mound, while the pitch and softball is delivered from a flat pitching circular area which is much closer to the home plate. All this talk of the rules kind of makes you want to just get out there and bet on baseball, doesn't it?

Pictures courtesy of Phelan M. Ebenhack and AP and Dodgers Sue Ogrocki and AP

About the Author
Brett Chatz

Brett is an internationally published sports journalist, political analyst, and medical fiction author. His commentary is seen in The Star, The Citizen, Tampa Bay Times, The Street, The Sowetan, The Sunday Times, The Sunday Independent, and across hundreds of online and print media platforms. He is the author of ‘Cricket Chatz’ and the highly-acclaimed, ‘Serum’. 

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