At first sight, it is difficult for most people to tell baseball and softball apart from one another. Baseball and softball are both played on a 4-base diamond where players score by making a run. In fact, softball was first introduced as an indoor version of baseball so players could play even in winters and harsh conditions.
However, if you take a closer look a the two games, many significant differences between the two can be seen. The biggest difference that can be noticed is that the balls used in the two sports vary significantly in size and color.
So, why is softball bigger than baseball? Why is softball yellow while baseball is white? Read below to find out why softballs are so different than baseballs.
What Is Softball?
Softball is a sport played by two teams of ten players and was first introduced as an in-door substitute to baseball. Despite being a substitute for baseball, the two games actually differ a lot from one another. Softball uses a larger ball, the pitches are underhand rather than overhand, and softball is played on a smaller diamond than baseball.
Softball is played between two teams, with nine or ten players from the same team being on the field at one time. The infield consists of 4 bases; the first, second, third, and fourth. Near the center of the diamond is a pitcher’s circle.
The game’s objective is to score more runs than the other team. Players hit the ball and run around the bases, touching each one as they go.
Differences Between Softball And Baseball
Although the two sound similar in their rules and objective, the two games differ a lot from one another. Here’s how:
- Pitching Mound: In baseball, the pitching mound is elevated, so the ball angles downwards when pitched. In softball, the pitching mound is level, and the pitch is made underhand, so it angles upwards.
- Distance from pitcher mound to home plate: In softball, the distance between the pitcher mound and the home plate is much shorter than in baseball.
- Ball size:Softballs are larger in size and weight than a baseball.
How are Softballs Different From Baseballs?
As mentioned before, softballs are much larger and softer than baseballs. Let’s see in detail how the two differ.
- Circumference: Baseballs usually have a circumference of 9-inches. Softballs, on the other hand, vary in size. For a fast pitch, the softball is 11-inches in circumference. Slowpitch softballs can be 12-inches in circumference. In youth leagues, younger players are allowed to use a 10-inch softball. Some softballs can even be 14-16 inches in circumference.
- Weight: Softballs are much heavier than baseballs, weighing around 7 ounces, while baseballs weigh about 5 ounces.
- Hardness:Baseballs are harder than softballs due to an extra layer between the center and the cover called the yarn windings. Baseballs are also compressed during manufacturing, increasing their hardness.
- Color:A softball is yellow in color while a baseball is white.
Why Is Softball Bigger Than A Baseball?
As the sport of softball has its origin in indoor games, the distance from a pitcher to a batter was much shorter than a baseball pitch. In baseball, the pitcher had to use enough force to make sure the ball traveled at least 60 feet to the batter; this distance is around 20 feet shorter in softball. Even though softball is slower and heavier than baseball, it can still reach a whopping speed of 70 mph.
All of this means that the batters have a much shorter reaction time in softball, 0.1 seconds less than that in baseball. Although it may sound insignificant, it makes a tremendous difference.
To sum it up, the main reason why a softball is bigger than a baseball is, so it becomes easier to hit and is safer for the batter.
Why Is A Softball Yellow?
Other than the size, another noticeable difference between the two is their color. While baseballs are famously white in color, a bright yellow colored ball is used in softball. White-colored softballs are also used, but usually only for recreational games. So, why is the softball yellow?
The reason is simple and ultimately the same as why it is bigger in size than a baseball. With a smaller distance from the pitcher to the batter, using a yellow-colored ball makes it easier for the batter to see and track the ball.
Additionally, a softball field is made of a combination of sand, clay, and silt instead of grass and so it will be easier for the players to spot a bright yellow colored ball.
What Is A Softball Made Of?
Softballs, like baseballs, consist of a core and a cover sewn together by stitches. However, unlike baseball, they are missing another layer of yarn, making it softer than baseball.
The core of the softball is made of a synthetic mixture of polyurethane. Alternatively, a mixture of cork and rubber, called kapok, is also used, giving the ball its bounciness.
The cover is made of leather and rubber and then glued to the core.
Our Final Thoughts
While baseball and softball are similar to one another in many ways, they do have some considerable differences. Although those differences may seem insignificant at first, they significantly alter how the two games are played. This is also why both games are enjoyed in their own way.
So why is a softball bigger than a baseball? Well, if it weren’t, the game would’ve been virtually impossible and unsafe to play. Softball relies more on how a play is made, making the game more exciting and fun to watch and play.
While softballs are softer than baseball, they are still much heavier and can cause serious injuries, so safety gear is still necessary. Better safe than sorry.