The game of softball is similar to baseball, and is played with 9 players in each team. In softball, bowling is done by throwing the ball underhand; it is one of the major differences between baseball and softball.
The field used is smaller to the one that is used for baseball. The rules of softball are modified to some extent at local/school levels in order to make the game suitable for players of a certain age group and levels (amateurs, professionals, etc.).
The field is bound by foul lines. Batters cannot hit the ball outside the area marked by these lines. There are two sections of the field, i.e., infield and outfield.
The infield is generally made of dirt or brick-dust. However, grass or artificial turf can also be used for the infield. The outfield is made of grass. The infield contains a diamond-shaped area (made up of 4 bases). The lines which connect these bases are called baselines.
The length of these baselines ranges from 45 - 65 feet. The pitcher's circle is at the center of this diamond-shaped area bound by baselines. The ball is pitched from the point at the center of pitcher's circle.
Bat and Ball
The bat used in softball is made of metal, wood, or even a composite material like carbon fiber. The length of the bat is variable; however, it should not be more than 34 inches. The diameter of the bat is around 2.25 inches, and weighs around 38 oz.
The ball used for playing this game is around 12 inches in circumference; the weight ranges from 6.25 - 7.0 oz. The material used for making the core of this ball is either a mixture of rubber and cork, kapok or a polyurethrane mixture. Two pieces of leather are sewn together to cover the core; generally a red-colored thread is used to sew these pieces.
Batters and pitchers play an important role in the game of softball. The pitcher has to throw the ball at the batter by means of an underarm action. The batter hits the ball, and he and his teammates occupying the other bases run around and come back to the home plate (first base) to score a 'run'.
The objective of the opposing team is to get the batters out before they can reach the home plate. It is necessary to get 3 batters out. A game of softball is divided into innings; seven innings are played in a single game. This number can be 6 for youth softball games.
The opposing teams play an offense and defense once in a single innings. The team on offense has to score maximum runs, while the opposing team (defense) has to get 3 players out as quickly as possible.
The pitching action is made after the umpire says "Play Ball". A pitching plate (made of rubber) is where the pitcher has to stand and throw the ball. As stated earlier, an underarm action is used for pitching the ball. This action is often referred to as the 'windmill' action.
Release of the ball should be at a level below the hip, and while doing so, throwing the ball in the strike zone of the batter is necessary. The strike zone is the area which batters use to strike the ball. If the batter misses (upon swinging the bat) despite the ball pitched in the strike zone, then it is called a strike.
The pitcher cannot step sideways while pitching the ball; stepping forward at the time of pitching is allowed. Pitchers can bring about variations the manner of throwing the ball. The variations include curves, risers, drops, etc.
Batters have to hit the ball thrown by the pitcher. Upon hitting the ball, they have to run around the bases to score runs. The ball, after being hit, is fielded by opponents in the outfield.
One has to cover as many bases as possible (and reach back to the home plate) before the ball is returned by the outfield players. The condition in which the batter misses out on 3 consecutive pitches is referred to as a strike out.
A home run is when the ball is hit by the batter over the fence. In other hits, ff the batter is able to run up to the first base before the ball is returned by the fielder, the run is called a single. This is referred to as a double when the player reaches the second base; if the player is able to reach the third base it is referred to as a triple.
Terms Used in Softball
- Grounder: This term is used to describe a condition in which the ball is hit on the ground.
- Fly Ball: The term fly ball is used when the ball is hit in the air into the infield area.
- Ball: A ball is referred to as the condition in which the ball is pitched outside the strike zone.
With all this knowledge, an individual can start playing softball, and then slowly learn more tricks of the trade as time goes by.