The two very popular sports – softball and baseball are similar in so many ways you might think it’s the same sport but played with a different colored ball. But, have you ever asked yourself what are the biggest differences between softball and baseball? If you have and want to learn more about the differences between baseball and softball, you’ve come to the right place.   

In reality, it is not only the color of the ball that is different. These two sports have a lot more differences including equipment, field size, and pitching.

Let’s check all of them out.

Field Size

The most evident distinction between baseball and softball is the field they are being played on, with the baseball field being the bigger one. The distance between the sides of a baseball field is 325ft while the distance on the softball field is 190ft. Also, the distance between the bases in softball is 60ft whereas the distance in softball is 90ft. The mound to plate length in distance is 17ft, in softball being 43ft, and in baseball 60ft and 6in.

Softball Field
Baseball Field

Number of players

In baseball, the number of players who participate in a game is 9. On the other hand, softball is a sport that has two versions – fastpitch and slowpitch. 9 players are participating in a fastpitch game and 10 in slowpitch.

Equipment

Bats

We begin this segment of differences in the equipment between these two great sports with the main differences between the types of bats used for both sports. While looking from afar bats used for both sports look the same, but when you look a little bit closer there are some distinctions. The main one is the material that the bats are made from – in professional baseball a bat has to be made from wood but in professional softball bats are usually made from composite materials, sometimes alloy (aluminum), and rarely from wood.

The second distinction is the length of the bats. Baseball ones can be up to 42 inches in length and the softball bats up to 34in.

There is a weight limit also, but it is not a big one – 5 ounces. Baseball bats can weigh 33 ounces and softball ones up to 38 ounces.

Barrel diameter is another small variety. Baseball bats range from 2 1/4″ to 2 3/4″ in diameter and the softball ones usually being 2 1/4″.

Both the baseball and softball hitters use the same type of bats for their preferred playing style. Contact hitters prefer a lighter, balanced bat, while power hitters favor a more end-loaded, heavier bat.

Softball And Baseball Bats Comparison and Differences

Balls

The balls used for baseball and softball have a huge difference in many aspects. Firstly, they are not the same size as the softball is larger and has 12inches in circumference whilst the baseball has 9in, making for a 3 inches deviation.

Secondly, the weight is different. Softball weights from 6.25 to 7.00 ounces and baseball weights from 9.00 to 9.25 ounces. So, softball is much larger and heavier than regulation baseball.

Now we come to the most obvious difference between the two balls and that is the color. Baseball has a white color and red stitches but softball is colored in yellow, making it more recognizable and easier to see.

Softball and baseball differences

Gloves

Because the ball size is different (softball being bigger), the design of the gloves for these two sports can’t be the same. Softball gloves have a much deeper pocket because of the larger ball while baseball ones have a smaller one and because of that we also see that the wall is different between the two types of gloves. Also, there is a slight size difference between the two.

But, if you are just starting to play softball there is no problem in trying to use the baseball glove (if you happen to have one) at the very beginning if you can’t afford a quality softball glove.

If you put the softball and baseball gloves side to side you wouldn’t see the differences right away because they are not that huge. But as we said, since there are slight variations in the design and feel, we would recommend that if you play softball regularly, that you purchase a quality softball glove instead of using a baseball one.

Pants

This is not a big diversity, but it is a diversity nonetheless. If you are comparing men’s baseball pants to softball ones, then there is only a small style difference.

Pitching

This is a massive difference in the playing style between these sports. In baseball, players pitch the baseball overhead or sidearm but in softball pitchers use the underhand technique.

Game Length

In the sport of softball, you win a game if you play 7 innings and the time to complete that game usually takes about an hour. Baseball, on the other hand, has 9 innings, and completing a game of baseball will take you approximately 2 hours longer.

Origins of softball and baseball

Both sports originated in the US in the 19th century. Baseball originated in 1839 in Cooperstown, NY while softball was founded 48 years later, in 1887 to be exact. The founding place of softball was Chicago, IL and in its very beginning it was played indoors and was called “indoor baseball”.