The game was invented so that the baseball players do not lose out on baseball practice during the cold, winter season. Hence, he developed this game of 'indoor baseball'. The first games were played using a boxing glove as a ball and a broomstick as a bat. Nearly 120 years on, softball is now a separately recognized sport that is played competitively.
Competitive games are looked after by the Amateur Softball Association of America, which is the governing body of softball in the United States. Here are some the official rules set by this organization for playing the game.
The rules are quite similar to baseball, given that softball originated from baseball. Two teams play a game of softball. Each team may have 9 players for a fast pitch game. ASA rules dictate 10 players.
The teams have to play 7 innings where each team bats once and pitches once. Usually, the home team bats second in each inning. The pitching team tries to get the batter out. A batter can be out by being struck-out thrice, or once while running between two bases, or when he gets caught out even once.
The batters try to score as many runs as they can, by running between the bases after hitting the ball. At the end of the 7 innings, the team with the most runs wins. If there is a tie, extra innings are played to break the deadlock.
The pitches vary based on whether it is a men's game or a women's game. There are also different rules for slow pitch and fast pitch softball. For the fast pitch game, the rules say that the distance between the two bases should be 60 ft for both men and women. The pitching mound should be 40 ft from the plate for women and 46 ft for men.
The fence is located at a minimum distance of 200 ft for women and 265 ft for men. The fence distance is subject to an upper limit of 300 ft for both men and women.
According to the slow pitch rules, the bases are supposed to be 65 ft apart for men and women. The pitcher's mound should be 50 ft from home plate for both. The fence distance has to be a minimum of 265 ft for women and 300 ft for men, subject to an upper limit of 275 ft for women and 315 ft for men.
ASA Softball Rules for Batting
Usually, the away team bats first. The batters in softball have to run around the 4 bases on the diamond as many times as they can. These are called 'runs'. The team with the most runs at the end of seven innings, i.e. seven consecutive sessions of batting and pitching, wins.
The bats may be made out of wood, aluminum or a combination of the two elements. But the bat may no be longer than 34 inches or weigh more than 38 ounces.
Rules for Pitching
Pitching the ball is basically throwing the ball at the batter. Unlike in baseball, the ball has to be thrown underarm. The pitcher tries to get the batter struck-out. To strike the batsman out, the pitcher has to throw the ball, within the strike zone.
The strike zone is between the knees and just below the shoulders of the batter. If the pitcher throws the ball in the strike zone and the batter misses the ball, it is called a strike. Three strikes get the batter out. Whether the ball is in the strike zone or not, is decided by the umpire, who stands behind the batter.
Softball is a sport that has most people participating. It is very popular in America both as a recreational as well as competitive sport. Hence, knowing the rules would definitely help you to understand this sport better. Have fun!