Softball is a team sports and a variant of baseball that also uses bat and scores by hitting the ball and then run to the bases to score a run. An observer always find softball very similar to baseball, but there are subtle differences between the two and some of these are: (1) Softballs (although in reality is not soft) has 7 innings and larger in size compared to baseball; (2) the field size as softball field is relatively small than a baseball field; and (3) the bat is smaller than its baseball counterpart. The number of fielders, the rules in running to the bases, and the way the pitcher pitches the ball are some of the noticeable differences between the softball and baseball.
The softball game, on its own, has two variants namely the Slow Pitch and the Fast Pitch, which is distinguishable by the way the pitchers throws the ball. In fast pitch the pitcher’s motion is a full windmill that rotates 360 degrees around the shoulder before it is delivered while half-full windmill for the slow pitch.
Parts of the Softball Field
The parts of the softball field is very much similar to the parts of the baseball field. These are the following:
Infield is the area enclosed by the four bases and the curved cutout that just extends the first, second and third base. This portion of the field is usually dirt covered. Infield houses the three bases, the home plate, and pitcher’s mound.
Batter’s box and catcher’s box are located on the vicinity of the home plate. Batters boxes are is where the batter hit the ball, while the catcher box is the area behind the home plate, in between the two batters boxes and has a direct sight to the pitchers mound.
Pitcher’s mound is the raised area in the roughly middle part of the infield, in which the pitcher places and throw the ball to the batter during the games.
Outfield is the area outside of the infield and usually the grassy part area of the entire width of softball field which is bordered by the foul lines and poles.
Foul lines and poles distinguishes the fair and foul territory.
Field Dimension Across Leagues
Field dimensions are set and regulated by WBSC.
Before World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), the International Softball Federation (ISF) is the governing body for the softball in the world. They are the ones who organizes and conducts world championship competitions in women’s and men’s fast pitch, women’s, men’s and coed slow pitch and modified pitch. They affiliates national federations as members of the ISF and conducts biennial congress for its affiliates.
But since the merger of International Baseball Federation (IBAF) and ISF last 2013 that paves way to the creation of WBSC, ISF becomes a division of WBSC but still retains it charter as a prime body overseeing and ruling on all aspects of softball. Through WBSC, the ISF sanctions regional championships and provides technical support to Regional (Multi-Sport) Games. The ISF provides the official playing rules for international competition including but not limited to; Olympic Games, world championships, regional championships, regional Games and other sanctioned competitions.
ISF is headquartered at 1900 S. Park Road, Plant City, Florida USA. The body is currently headed by Mr. Dale McMann as president.
The section below describes some popular softball leagues that has field dimension adhering to the standards set by ISF through WBSC.:
Little League Softball was established in 1974 and today 360,000 athletes participate on more than 24,000 softball teams in over 20 countries, initially began with only two divisions but now offers programs for girls ages 4 through 18. Little League Softball currently operates seven tournament divisions as part of the International Tournament where teams must play to advance through District, Section, State, Region and World Series tournaments. Four divisions culminate at a Softball World Series where athletes will make lasting memories, create life-long friendships, compete against the best teams from nine US and International regions and one league will be crowned World Champions.
The layout and field dimensions of Little League Softball is almost the same with its counterpart of the baseball. The distance between bases is 60 feet, and it is applicable to all softball leagues. Distance from the rubber in the pitchers mound to home plate is 46 feet. All other dimensions in the softball field is mostly the same as those from the Little League Baseball
NSL is a top-tier slow pitch softball in Great Britain. It was introduced in 2009 with fifteen independent tournament teams across the country originally played over three tournaments but eventually expanded to thirteen teams that are competing in a five-tournament event, which then culminates in the BSF Premier Nationals tournament, with the winner progressing to European competition.
Slowpitch softball was brought into the UK in the 1980’s and since then, the game has grown to be a thriving summer sport played in cities all around the country.
Like baseball, distance between bases is 60 feet. Pitching distance usually varies, but typically it is 46 feet. All other dimension are kept similar with its baseball counterpart. See diagram for more details.
The National Pro Fastpitch, is the only women professional league of softball in the United States. The NPF is the rebranded Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL) that was founded in 1997 and folded in 2001. The league currently has 5 teams namely USSSA Florida Pride, Akron Racers, Chicago Bandits, Dallas Charge and the Pennsylvania Rebellion.
The following dimensions below is applicable to adult fastpitch, college and high school softballs. Basically, the layout is the same with the baseball but with some changes in the dimension as illustrated by the diagram below: