What’s the Difference between Baseball and Softball?

Your son wants to play baseball. Your daughter wants to play softball. Is there a difference?

Some people assume that softball is the girls’ version of baseball, but this isn’t accurate. Both are their own unique sports, even though they share many similarities. Softball, or “indoor baseball,” was created in 1887 by George Hancock. It now stands as its own recognized sport, with both male and female players.

Let’s take a look at some of the differences between the two sports, and why knowing these differences will help you choose the right sport for your kids.

Pitching

  • In baseball, pitching involves standing at an elevated pitching mound that has a 9-foot radius and throwing overhand. The pitching distance is 60 feet and 6 inches.

  • In softball, pitching is done from a flat pitching circle that has an 8-foot radius with underhand pitching. The pitching distance is 35-43 feet.

Bats

  • Baseball bats have a maximum length of 42 inches, although this is a rarity, as bats generally go up to 34 inches. Bats have a drop of -3 for middle school baseball and up. Baseball bats are wider and can have have a sweet spot in diameter as wide as 2-¾ inches but most leagues limit the barrel size to 2 5/8.

  • Softball bats have a maximum length of 34 inches, and the maximum drop is 12 inches. They are known for being slender compared to baseball bats, with the maximum diameter being 2-¼ inches.

Balls

  • Baseballs are small and dense compared to softballs. They have a 9-inch circumference and are white with red stitching.

  • Softballs are larger, with a 12-inch circumference and yellow color. Younger players use 10-inch balls that are white in color.

Game Rules

  • In baseball, all of the bases are 90 feet apart. The home run fence is a minimum of 250 feet, although you’ll see most stadiums with fences that are 400 feet away from home plate in centerfield. There are nine innings in baseball, and if there is a tie at the end of the game, the show will go on until there is a winner.

  • In softball, the bases are 60 feet apart. The home run fence is a minimum of 220 feet, making these fields quite smaller. There are seven innings in softball, and if both teams are tied at the end of the seventh inning, another inning will be played. The key difference is that a runner will be placed at second base from the offensive team.