Dr. Mickel Malek, a dental surgeon at ISmileSpa in Santa Cruz, California, enjoys a variety of athletic and active hobbies. An equestrian and a scuba diver, Dr. Mickel Malek also plays softball.
While most people understand that softball differs from baseball in terms of the size and weight of the ball itself, many do not fully realize the many differences that make softball its own unique sport. It developed out of baseball in the late 1800s, when founder George Hancock created it as a way to play baseball indoors. Many of softball’s rules reflect this origin, as it involves closer distances and a more gentle pitch than baseball.
While baseball pitchers stand on a raised mound and throw the ball 60.5 feet to home plate, their softball counterparts remain flat on the ground and pitch at a distance of 35 to 43 feet from the batter. Rules demand that the softball pitch be underhand, whereas the baseball pitcher has the freedom to throw overhand or sidearm and usually does.
The baseball itself is denser and smaller than a softball, which is 12 inches in circumference, as compared to a 9-inch baseball. The softball bat has a maximum diameter 0.5 inches less than that of the baseball bat, and it is significantly lighter and shorter.
Softball batters run bases that are 60 feet apart, instead of the 90-foot spans between bases in baseball. The field itself is also shorter in softball, which is typically 250 yards from home plate to the outfield fence. On a baseball field, these two markers are more than 300 feet apart.
Finally, a complete softball game is shorter by nature than a baseball game. Whereas baseball players have nine innings to win a game, the softball team plays for a standard seven innings. The observer may also notice that a base runner in baseball may leave the base to lead off, whereas a softball player may not.