If we travel back into history of softball, then the game came into existence in Chicago, Illinois; thanks to George Hancock. The very first game took off using a rolled up boxing glove as a ball, and broomstick as a bat. Softball game is among the popular sports in the United States. The game has its roots in baseball. Size of the balls and throw of the pitches separates the two games. Softball game uses balls that are larger in size than what are used in a baseball game. The pitches are thrown underhand instead of overhand, as in baseball. League specifications determine the types of rules and regulations of a softball game. How skilled the players are, and the amount of participation in league play, also decides the variation of the rules.
Players and the Game
A softball game generally indulges 10 players in a match. However, some teams may also have 8 to 9 players also. The playing ground is divided into two sections - the infield and the outfield. There are three bases on the infield. At each of these bases, there is a base defender. At the home plate, a catcher is placed and the pitcher is at the pitcher's rubber. This is the kind of setup of the infield. Left fielder, center fielder, right center fielder and right fielder are involved in the outfield. The softball is a 7 innings game and the time frame is about an hour.
The pitcher's rubber at the infield is required to be stepped on by both the feet of the pitcher. According to the softball pitching instructions, while pitching, only one step is allowed to be taken in the forward direction. As mentioned above, the ball is pitched underhand instead of overhand. When the pitcher is about to make the pitch, he has to ensure that both his hands are on the ball.
The batting rules have to be followed by the batter throughout the game. The rules say that the batter is allowed three strikes until he gets called out. The batter is also called out if a fly ball is caught or if the batter does not stand in the batter's box, once the game has started.
The bats used by the batters are mostly made of aluminum or composites. An approved bat list is available with each softball team. One of the important softball regulations is that the bats have to be closely monitored by most softball governing associations. The umpires also need to check the bats' legality.
Basic Rules and Regulations for Base Running and Scoring
When moving forward through the bases, runners must touch each base in order. Until the ball has been hit by a subsequent batter, base runners cannot lead off a base. Softball allows the batters to only run past the first base, not the second and third one. If the ball hit by the batter has been caught in mid air, the base runner needs to tag the occupied base before proceeding to the next base. According to the rules and regulations of softball, one base runner cannot overtake another base runner. Although stealing from one base to another is permitted by some fast-pitch leagues, generally this is not allowed in regular softball games.
Base runners are called out if they are tagged with the ball before they reach a base or if the fielders get the ball to the first base before the runners. Runners are also tagged out if they cross 3 feet out of the base line. This normally happens when they try to avoid getting tagged out by the fielders.
Fastpitch Softball Rules
As the name suggests, in a fast pitch softball game, you can expect a faster pitch than normal. Generally, the pitch goes up to a speed of 60 to 70 miles per hour. Here the playing field has smaller dimensions, with 200 feet maintained between the home plate and the center field wall. Helmet, mask and a throat protector are a must for players in a fast pitch softball game. Stealing bases is also permitted in this type of game.
Slow Pitch Softball Rules
Here the pitchers are required to arc the ball while pitching. The field used in a slow pitch softball game is larger than that of the fastpitch game. Slow pitch game does not allow foul balls to be counted as strikes, if there are already two strikes on the batter. This is one of the softball rules that is similar to baseball rules. Slow pitch soft ball games are preferred by most amateur players as the ball is easier to hit than a fastpitch game.
The above mentioned softball regulations and rules have been presented in a simplified version. However, it may feel different while actually playing on the field, even if the rules remain the same. A practical hands-on experience in the field provides a real taste of getting acquainted with the rules that have been set up for the game.