Baseball and Softball: Similarities and Differences

30th November 2019
Baseball and softball share many similarities, but they have different rules in addition to other different aspects. Make sure you know each one well enough to differentiate them.

Baseball and softball are different sports but they share a number of similarities. In our post today, read about both their similarities and differences so you’ll know for sure which sport you’re watching!

Baseball: the basics

In baseball, two teams of nine players play against each other. They play on a grass field, which has a base path cut into it; the lane allows the batters to run to the different bases. The field is a diamond shape.

In baseball, the players aim to hit the ball with a bat out towards the field and run around the field hitting the separate bases until they reach the starting base. If the batter returns to the home base, the team wins a run.

While there’s proof that ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Persia or Greece also played similar sports with bats and balls, baseball first started in New York, United States. The first official game dates back to 1842 and aside from being a popular North American sport, it also has a presence in Central America (including the Caribbean countries).

Softball: the basics

The sport first started in the United States at the end of the 19th century. A softball field is defined by two foul lines and a diamond that’s 18-meters long. The home base is a pentagon shape.

Each team has nine players on the field and each player has a specific position: first base, second base, shortstop, third base, left field, center field, right field, pitcher and catcher.

Softball has seven innings. The team with the most runs at the end of the innings wins.

softball basics

Baseball and softball: differences

You’ll notice some differences between baseball and softball if you compare them side-by-side.

  • Softball uses a slightly wider bat. The lengths of the bats also differ with those in baseball: 34 and 42 inches respectively.
  • Female players are allowed to join male teams in softball.
  • Baseball fields are bigger.
  • In softball, pitchers throw the ball underhand while in baseball, pitchers throw overhand.
  • The number of innings differs as well: seven in softball and nine in baseball.
  • In baseball, 27 meters separate the bases while the distances are only 18 meters in softball.
  • Softball balls are 30 cm wide versus 23 cm in baseball.
  • Baseball balls weight five ounces while the others only weigh seven.
  • In softball, players have to touch a base in steals. On the other hand, baseball players can bypass a base entirely without touching it and still steal it.
  • Once players leave the field, they can’t return to the game in baseball.
softball differences

Baseball and softball: similarities

Many people say that softball came from baseball and it could be true; it does share several rules with baseball. Let’s take a closer look at the similarities:

  • They share the same endorsement (World Baseball Softball Confederation).
  • Both fields have four bases and layout (and diamond shapes).
  • The point system is identical: three strikes are an out and four balls are a base.
  • Both sports have 9-player teams and all of the positions are the same.
  • Both made it to the 1991 Barcelona and 2008 Beijing Olympics. In addition, they’ll both be in 2020 Tokyo.

As you read with us today, baseball and softball are very similar but have their defining differences. Both are a blast and can be even more entertaining to watch!

  • Fleisig, G. S., McMichael, C. S., & Andrews, J. R. (2009). Baseball. In The Encyclopaedia of Sports Medicine: An IOC Medical Commission Publication, Epidemiology of Injury in Olympic Sports. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781444316872.ch5
  • Sóftbol: un deporte bien suave. Secretaría de Deportes de México. http://conadeb.conade.gob.mx/Documentos/Publicaciones/Softbol.pdf