There are many differences between softball and baseball outside of the ball and underhand vs. overhand pitching. Baseball games are nine innings of play, while softball is seven. The bases in baseball are 90 feet away from each other, while they are 60 feet in softball. Finally, the rules of stealing a base between softball and baseball are different.
So, what are the other differences between softball and baseball games? Can baseball players throw the ball underhand during games? What sport pays athletes more money?
Here is the complete breakdown of the differences between softball and baseball.
How Many Innings in a Softball vs. Baseball Game?
Professional softball games are seven innings of play, while baseball has nine. Unlike professional baseball games, softball games have a mercy rule that can shorten an official game. If a team is up eight runs or more after five innings, the game can conclude with them being a winner. In professional baseball, there is no mercy rule.
Which Game Takes Longer to Complete: Baseball vs. Softball?
Since softball games are seven innings, they take less time to complete. NCAA college softball games, on average, take about two hours to complete. Major League Baseball games take about three hours and eleven minutes to compete during the 2021 season.
What is the Size Difference Between a Softball and a Baseball?
According to Flo Softball, the softball is 12 inches in circumference and 3.8 inches in diameter. In comparison, a baseball is 9 inches in circumference and is 2.94 inches in diameter. The size of the ball between both leagues is usually the most significant difference that casual fans will notice when comparing the two sports.
What Field is Bigger: Softball Field or Baseball Field?
A softball infield and outfield fence are much smaller than you will find on a baseball field. Infield bases in softball are 60 feet away from each other, while in baseball, they are 90 feet. Outfield fences in softball tend to be about 200 feet or so from home plate, while in baseball, the minimum is usually over 300 feet. Centerfield in baseball can be closer to 400 feet away.
What is the Pitcher’s Mound Difference in Softball vs. Baseball?
The pitching mound in softball is 43 feet away, while in baseball, the pitching distance is 60 feet and 6 inches. In addition to that, a softball mound is not raised, unlike what you will see in baseball games. Keeping the mound level in softball makes it easier to throw in the strike zone, whereas, in baseball, a pitcher needs to throw at an angle to have it be a strike. Baseball pitchers throw off a mound that is 10 inches taller than the height of the home plate.
Pitching Difference Between Softball and Baseball
Not only is the mound flat in softball and closer to home plate than baseball, but softball pitchers must throw the ball underhand. While infielders can outfielders can throw the ball overhand on plays, softball pitchers can only throw the pitch to a batter underhand. According to Rap Sodo, the average college softball pitch speed falls between 58 and 65 MPH.
Baseball pitchers can either throw underhand or overhand, but most prefer overhand because they can throw the pitch faster. Some pitchers have a form more similar to softball pitchings, like a sidearm delivery or submarine pitch, but otherwise, most throw overhand. According to mlb.com, the average fastball came out to 93.5 MPH in 2021.
What is the Difference Between Bats in Softball and Baseball?
Professional softball games use a metal bat, while professional baseball bats use a wooden bat during their games. While little league, high school, and college baseball use metal bats to play baseball, you go to a wooden bat once you move into professional baseball. In the summer, some leagues only use a wooden bat, but little league and non-professional leagues use a metal bat for baseball most of the time.
Softball bats tend to max out at 34 inches, while baseball bats can reach 42 inches. Also, softball bats tend to have much bigger barrels than you would find during baseball games. Depending on your league, softball rules will enforce the max barrel size a hitter can use when hitting.
How Does Stealing Bases Work in Softball vs. Baseball?
Softball players on fastpitch softball leagues can’t lead off a base to attempt a stolen base against the softball pitcher. Players can only try a stolen base after the pitcher releases the ball. The runner can only steal a base in slow-pitch softball leagues when the ball reaches home plate. You can’t steal home plate in softball.
Players can lead off the base in professional baseball games to attempt a stolen base. A baserunner can attempt a stolen base regardless if the pitcher throws the ball or not. For example, some baserunners try stealing home plate even before a pitcher throws the ball.
According to Comparably, professional softball players, on average, make about $44k a year. For Major League Baseball players, the minimum salary, since the latest CBA in 2022, is $700k a year.
Conclusion: What are the Differences Between Softball and Baseball?
In summary, there are a lot of differences between softball and baseball outside of the physical ball. The field size is smaller in professional softball, bats are metal, the games are seven innings long, and the pitch that the pitcher throws is underhand. In professional baseball, the field is bigger, pitches are faster, the bats are wooden, and games take longer to complete since they need nine innings of play.
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