Top 10 Differences between Softball and Baseball

by Lindsey Carter

Softball and baseball both need gloves, balls, and bats in the field. The pitcher throws the ball and batter hit the ball.

Both are the same, right?


Well, asking a noob player might result in an affirmative answer. The basic concept is pretty similar to both. But, there are some subtle differences between softball and baseball.

Statista reports 9.69 million people played softball only in 2018. You can easily realize how popular it is!

In this article, we will find out the core differences between these lookalike sports. Let's start the journey together.

What Are the Core Differences Between Softball and Baseball?

What are the core differences between Softball and Baseball?
What are the core differences between Softball and Baseball?

The core differences between these sports are bat, ball, pitching style, playing field, game duration, etc. Scroll down to get an in-depth difference between those.

1. Bat

The outlook of a bat is the same for both softball and baseball. The main focus here is the length and diameter.

Bats used in baseball matches are mainly 34 inches (86.4 cm) in length, and the diameter is around 2.25 inches.

These bats are quite slender than the baseball bats. And the max drop of softball bats is12 inches.

In terms of weight, the softball weight could max1007 grams. As the softballs are mainly played indoor, it's better to keep the weight as lightweight as possible.

On the contrary, the length of a full-size baseball bat is about42 inches (106.7 cm). The 42 inches bats are suitable for the international matches. The local leagues mainly support 34 inches bats only.

If you want to teach your kid about hitting the baseball, you should choose the smaller bat. Your youngster will feel more comfortable with the smaller bat.

2. Ball

Another difference between these sports is the size, weight, and color of the ball. Probably, this is the most significant difference amongst baseball and softball.

A measurement of a regular baseball is between 9 to 9.25 inches. It weighs around 5 to 5.25 ounces. But the softballs are comparatively more substantial than the regular baseballs. The dimension of these balls rangesfrom11.88 to 12.13 inches and weighs nearly 6.25 to 7 ounces.

And here comes the color ball color. People can differentiate these by looking at the balls only.

The baseball comes in white color with red stitches. On the other hand, the softballs are colored in deep yellow. The yellow color makes the ball more visible while throwing from a short distance.

3. Field Dimension

Differences Between Softball And Baseball
Differences Between Softball And Baseball

You might be already realized that the softball was started as an indoor game. When George Hancock started the softball trend, he actually makes a smaller version of baseball.

Have a look at the distance of the field dimensions.

  • The distance between each base is 60 feet for softballs and 90 feet for the baseball field.
  • The outfield fence is around 400 feet away from the home plate. But, it is only 220 feet for softball.
  • And the distance between pitcher rubber and home plate is 60 feet for baseball and 46 feet for softball.

4. Pitching style

Besides the ball color, another most noticeable difference between softball and baseball is the pitching style.

The softball pitchers throw the ball in underhand style. But the baseball players have to pitch the ball in sidearm or overhead style.

5. Pitching distance

Though baseball has a fixed pitching distance, it varies from level by level in the softball industry.

  • The distance is 40 feet (12.19 meter) for armature women's level
  • 43 feet (13.11 meter) for high school level tournaments and
  • 46 feet (14.02 meter) for college or international tournaments.

In baseball, the distance is always 60 feet 6 inches (18.44 meters).

6. Level pitching mound

In softball, the pitching mound is properly leveled. It helps the pitcher to pitch the ball within the strike zone.

Nonetheless, the pitching mound is slightly elevated in baseball.A standard pitcher mound is nearly 10 inches above the field.It makes the ball angles downward after pitching.

7. Ball griping

The ball size isn't the same in baseball and softball. Thus the ball gripping style is also different in both of these.

  • In softball, the players hold the ball by placing their ring, index, and middle finger on the seam and the pinky finger on the side.
  • The baseball players put the middle and index finger straightly in the seam for throwing fast.

It's not mandatory to follow these tricks strictly. Grip the ball just in your comfortable way. But, following these tips will help you to get a smoother gripping experience.

8. Lead-Offs

There is a simple difference in regards to the lead-offs. In softball, the batter or runner can lead-off only when the pitcher releases the ball. Nevertheless, the baseball players can attempt for lead-off whenever the ball is in motion.

9. Uniform

Uniforms are definitely one of the best ways to differentiate softball and baseball tournaments.

Remember, the jersey, shirt, or helmet is the same for both sports. Only the pant size is different here. A typical baseball pant covers the full leg of the player. But, the softball pant only covers the past of knees. By the way, a knee-high sock is preferable while playing softball.

10. Game length

If you want to differentiate the games in terms of innings time, baseball will win this point. The college baseball requires nine innings to complete a tournament properly.

Nonetheless, you don't have to play that long to complete a softball match. Just like the high school or college baseball matches, softball requires only seven innings to complete a match.

Even if you want to differentiate these sports by match time, baseball is still the winner. Though Major League Baseball is trying to shorten the time, yet it takes about three hours. By the way, a typical softball match doesn't need more than 60 minutes to be completed.

Check out the most essential backyard batting cage reviews

Brief History of Softball

Softball is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams who take turns batting and fielding. A softball game can last anywhere from 3 to 7 innings (games). The game was invented in 1887 by George Hancock, who originally called it indoor baseball. The first professional softball league started in 1934. Today there are over 5 million people who play softball in the U.S.

Some Famous Softball Players

There are many famous players of softball, some dating back to the 1930s. These are just a few of them.

Helen Callaghan

1938-1950s: Helen Callaghan was an American player in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). The league was made up of women and the games were only played outside. During her career, she won five batting titles and three home run titles. She had a strong arm with good accuracy and could throw fastballs over 90 miles per hour (145 km/h) which is considered very impressive for a girl in softball. Her teammates believed that she was the most skilled player in the league.

Dot Richardson

1930s: Dot Richardson was an American player who started playing professional softball at 15 years old and won 16 national championships by the time she retired at age 33. She is still recognized as one of the greatest players ever. In 1982, she began coaching college softball where she coached for 27 years. Richardson has been inducted into five different Halls of Fame, including the Women's Sports Hall of Fame in 1980, the ISF Hall of Fame in 2000, and two halls of fame for her college (2007) and high school (1999).

Dottie Hunter

1930s: Dottie Hunter was an American player who began playing professional softball at 15 years old. She played shortstop on the first three championship teams of the AAGPBL before ending her career to raise a family. In 1986, she became part-owner and president of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League when it celebrated its 40th anniversary. The AAGPBL folded permanently in 1954 after 12 years because male professional baseball had become well known and popular.

Josephine "JoJo" Callis

1930s: Josephine "JoJo" Callis was an American player who started playing the game at 12 years old and played for over 20 years. She began her career in 1938 with the Racine Belles, which won the first league championship that year. Jo became famous for being one of the few full-time switch hitters. Jo was inducted into the World Softball Hall of Fame in 1978.

Dorothy "Dottie" Kamenshek

1930s-1950s: Dorothy "Dottie" Kamenshek was an American player who played for over 20 years. She began her career with the Racine Belles, which won the first league championship that year. Later on she played for the Rockford Peaches and finally retired with the Fort Wayne Daisies. Her playing skills were often described as "neat" by sportswriters who watched her play. Dottie has been recognized many times for her achievements including being inducted into museums, halls of fame, and more. She was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, in 1988.

Alma Ziegler

1938-1950s: Alma Ziegler was an American player who began her career with the Racine Belles and helped lead them to seven championship titles during her 11 seasons there. She played first base for most of her career but also played outfield at times too. During World War II she took a break from playing to help out on her family's farm. When she returned, she was elected the president of the AAGPBL Players Association. After retiring in 1954, she managed at least two boys' baseball teams until 1962 and then coached girls' softball for 25 years.

Betty Foss

1965-1980s: Betty Foss was an American player who played in three different decades. She began playing in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) for six seasons between 1950 and 1967. During her career she led the league twice in home runs (1951, 1955). A four-time All Star, Foss also won batting titles two times (in 1951 and 1954) and was the Player of the Year recipient in 1954. She is best known for her defensive skills as a first baseman and for hitting game-winning home runs, including leading the league in walk-off home runs (3). Her infectious smile and enthusiastic personality made Betty "JET" at bat one of the most popular players of the AAGPBL. She is a member of the National Softball Hall of Fame.

Shirley Burkovich

1965-1980s: Shirley Burkovich was an American player who played from 1965 to 1980. She started playing when she was only five years old and won her first national championship in 1968 before turning professional with the Chicago Bluebirds in 1969. After a year there, she joined the Chicago Hustle, which won the league championship two years in a row. She made her debut with the national team in 1974 at the ISF Women's World Championship. She had more experience on the international scene when she helped the US win their first gold medal at 1975 Pan American Games after defeating Canada 5-0. Shirley was selected to play for the USA Softball Team that won gold medals at world tournaments in 1976, 1981, and 1985.

Brief History of Baseball

The game of baseball has been around for hundreds of years. It was started with the same rules as today, but with one major difference at the beginning. The pitcher threw underhand, or sidearm (not overhand like they do today).

The game started in England in the 1700's where they called it rounders. Just like today, teams had nine players with different positions. The game evolved in the mid 1800's when players started using gloves and switched to overhand pitching (throwing up in the air). It continued evolving throughout the century where they began using wooden bats instead of clubs and it became known as baseball.

The first professional league was formed in 1871, called the National Association of Professional Baseball Players. The league only lasted five years because there were too many teams, games would last all day and baseball was not considered a major sport at this time. It did however push the game further along to where it is today.

From 1876-1915 no professional leagues existed because of how expensive it was to run a team. This time period is called the "dead-ball era". By the end of this time, people could not play baseball for money because the game had evolved so far beyond what they could afford for equipment and teams, so instead they started playing it as more of a hobby.

Some Famous Baseball Players

Some famous baseball players are Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Cy Young, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron.

Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth is an American hero because he was one of the greatest baseball players in the history of the game. His pitcher-friend who helped him hit his 60 home runs in 1927. He had an overall batting average of.342. He was on the New York Yankees. When he died, he was one of the most famous people in America.

Ty Cobb

Ty Cobb is another famous baseball player because he played for the Detroit Tigers and had a lifetime batting average of.366. His record is the highest batting average of all time. He played in the early twentieth century. He was nicknamed "The Georgia Peach".

Cy Young

Cy Young is famous because he won over 500 games and pitched over 7,000 innings in his 21-year baseball career. He had 938 career wins. Another reason he is famous was that he became the first pitcher to play professional baseball for twenty years. He played for the Boston Red Sox.

Joe DiMaggio

Joe DiMaggio is famous because he was a center fielder and played for the New York Yankees during his 13-year baseball career, and had a batting average of.325 throughout that time. He also won three MVP awards and hit over 500 doubles in his career. His 56 game hitting streak is still a record today.

Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson is another famous baseball player because he was one of the first African Americans to play professional baseball. He became on 1949, when he broke the color barrier for black players in Major League Baseball (MLB). Previously only white players were allowed to play on MLB teams. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962, just after retiring from playing baseball.

Hank Aaron

Hank Aaron played in the National League for over 20 years. He is famous because he set a record for most home runs in a career by a major league baseball player, and held it until 1998 when Barry Bonds broke it. Hank Aaron is famous because he hit 755 homeruns throughout his 25-year career, which was from 1954 to 1976. He hit 40 or more home runs in fifteen seasons.

Summary of Softball vs Baseball

Main Differences Between Softball and Baseball

  1. The ball used in softball is larger and less dense than the baseball
  2. Softball bats are curved, while baseball bats are not
  3. In softball, the pitcher pitches to a batter placed at home plate, while in baseball the pitcher pitches to a group of 3 batters standing at different points along a line called "the mound"
  4. A softball game is typically shorter than a baseball game
  5. Softball players wear sliding shorts while baseball players do not
  6. Baseball players wear metal cleats on their shoes, while softball players wear rubber cleats

How to Play Each Sport in Baseball vs Softball

  • The objective of softball is to hit the ball and score runs by running around the bases
  • In baseball, the pitcher throws a hard ball at high speeds towards the batter
  • Softball is a slower game that is often played in smaller fields
  • Baseball is a more physical sport that can be played in larger fields
  • Softball players use bats that are curved at one end, while baseball players use bats that are straight
  • Softball games usually last for 7 innings, while baseball games can last up to 9 innings
  1. Softball is more popular in the United States
  2. Baseball has been around for a longer time
  3. Softball is played at a slower pace
  4. Baseball is considered to be more of a mental game
  5. Softball is easier to learn than baseball
  6. Baseball requires more expensive equipment

Conclusion for Softball vs Baseball

The differences between softball and baseball are really subtle. Though both of these sports might share some similarities, it doesn't mean these are exactly the same sports.

After reading this article, hope that you can find out the differences between those. So, no more "baseball and softball is the same" speech again, okay?

If you have any further inquiries about baseball, feel free to throw the question via the comment box.

Keep hitting the ball!

About Lindsey Carter

Lindsey and Mike C. grew up in the same neighborhood. They also went to the same Cholla Middle School together. The two famillies from time to time got together for BBQ parties...

Lindsey's family relocated to California after middle school. They occasiotnally emailed each other to update what's going on in their lives.

She received Software Engineering degree from U.C. San Francisco. While looking for work, she was guided by Mike for an engineering position at the company Mike is working for. Upon passing the job interview, Lindsey was so happy as now she could finally be back to where she'd like to grow old with.

Lindset occasionally guest posted for Mike, adding other flavors to the site while helping diverse his over-passion for baseball.

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