Softball Vs Baseball Key Differences

Simply put, what are the differences?

Baseball is a game that originated in Britain hundreds of years ago but was modernized in America during the 19th century. Like the old English games cricket and rounders, it involved two sets of teams taking turns pitching a ball towards a player of the opposing team who aims to hit the ball with a bat. Scoring points involves running over bases anti-clockwise and arriving back at the home plate.

Softball is a variation of Baseball that was invented in Chicago. It was initially created as an indoor alternative to the already popular sport in the early 20th century. However, it became an outdoor sport that featured in the Olympic Games, just as Baseball did. It is considered a "women's sport", just as netball is considered a women's version of basketball in other English speaking countries. However, this is quite untrue. Both men's and women's softball, whether 'fast-pitch' or 'slow-pitch', are played in schools across the world as a safe alternative to baseball.

Both the games differ in only certain aspects of the rules.

Softball Vs. Baseball



Bat Type

KD #1

Commonly made with wood from an ash tree, can also be made from aluminum. No more than 42 inches in length (106.7cm) and weighing 33 ounces (936g).

Can be made of wood, Aluminium or Carbon Fibre. No more than 34 inches (86cm) and weighing 38 ounces (1.1kg).

Ball type

KD #2
KD #3

Hard rubber center stitched with yarn and covered with animal hide. Between 9.00 and 9.25 inches in circumference (22.9cm and 23.5cm) and weighs between 5.00 and 5.25 ounces (142g and 148g).

Pitched over-arm.

Rubber/Cork center with a luminescent yellow outer layer. 11.88 and 12.13 inches (30.2cm and 30.8cm) in circumference and weighs between 6.25 and 7.00 ounces (177g and 198g).

Pitched under-arm.


One team aims to score more runs (points) than the other team by batting (hitting) a ball into the field and running around the bases, touching each one in succession.

One team aims to score more runs (points) than the other team by batting (hitting) a ball into the field and running around the bases, touching each one in succession.

Players on the field

KD #4

9 players on the field.

9 players out on the field in 'fast-pitch' softball and 10 on the field for 'slow-pitch'.


KD #5

Normally a team with 9 players on the field will have a roster of 25, so 16 sit on the bench when fielding. When batting, MLB regulations state there must be 9 batters set in order.

Most regulations state a team must have at least 4 on the bench.


KD #5

Points awarded for runs back to home plate. Bases can be loaded or empty, and they must be scored within the 9 innings of the game.

Similar to baseball, except games normally last for only 7 innings.


Abner Doubleday

George Hancock


Gloves, helmets, jersey, pants, caps.

Similar to baseball, can include shorts.

Time Played

KD #6

Just over 3 hours

1-2 hours

Current Champions

World Series Champions 2019: Washington Nationals
World Cup Champions 2011:
The Netherlands
(BWC ceased in 2011).

Men's Softball World Champions 2019: Argentina
NAIA Softball Champions 2019: Southern Oregon
NPF Cowles Cup 2019: USSSA Pride.

Summer Olympic Sport

Unofficially featured in 8 different Olympic games from 1904 to 1988. Featured officially from 1992 to 2008, now featured again for 2020.

From 1996 to 2008, now featured again for 2020.

Most Prestigious League

KD #6

Major League Baseball comprises of the National League and American League.

National Pro Fastpitch
(No professional softball league in the US).


68.5 million fans attended MLB games in 2019


Iconic Teams

Yankees '27
Cincinnati Reds '75
Baltimore Orioles '70
Boston Red Sox '04
Los Angeles Dodgers '63
Yankees '98

US Women's Olympic National team '96
US Women's Olympic National team '00
Japan National team '17
Liberty Lady Flames

Iconic Players

Babe Ruth
Willie Mays
Barry Bonds
Hank Aaron
Mickey Mantle
Derek Jeter

Dot Richardson
Lisa Fernandez
Jennie Finch
Jessica Mendoza

Rules of Baseball

A baseball game is played between two teams, each composed of nine players that take turns playing offense (batting and base-running) and defense (pitching and fielding). An inning is a full turn taken by both teams of both offense and defense. A regulation MLB game consists of nine innings. The visiting team bats at the 'top' (first half) of every inning. The home team bats in the 'bottom' (second half) of every inning.

The goal of the game is to score more runs than the other team. Once the batters hit the ball, they need to score runs by running anti-clockwise around the diamond-marked shape on the ground. In order for a full run to count as a point, they need to touch every base in the diamond before returning back to the base, which they hit the baseball from, known as 'home plate.' The team in the field attempts to prevent runs from scoring by trying to eliminate running batters.

'Outs' remove opposing players from offensive action until their next turn at bat comes up again. When three outs are recorded, the teams switch roles for the next half-inning. If the score of the game is tied after nine innings, extra innings are played to resolve the contest. Many amateur games, particularly unorganized ones, involve different numbers of players and innings. To record an out on the opposing team, there are multiple methods of doing so. If a perfectly good pitch of the ball is missed by a batsman, this counts as a 'strike'. If the pitcher can record three strikes, then the batsman is out. The phrase 'three strikes and you're out' comes from this rule of baseball.

Another way of getting someone out is if a field player catches a ball hit by the batsman. Even if the ball is aiming outside the field of play, to constitute a 'foul ball', the fieldsman can still catch the ball to eliminate the batsman. Another common method of recording an out, is when a batsman runs towards a base, if the field player on that base has the ball with a body part on the base before the batsman reaches it, then they are out. One of the most interesting aspects of running bases, is that the player can still run to the next base even if the current batsman misses the ball. If they reach any of the next bases, this is known as a 'stolen base'. 'Flyout', 'ground out', 'force out', and 'tag out' are all the names of different methods of recording outs.

It is possible to record two outs in the same play. This is called a 'double play'. Three outs in one play, a 'triple play', is possible, though extremely rare. Players that are out must leave the field, returning to their team's bench. A runner may be stranded on base when a third out is recorded against another player on the team. Stranded runners do not benefit the team in its next turn at bat as every half-inning begins with the bases empty.

The iconic shape of the baseball field has primary boundaries, the foul lines, which extend forward from home plate at 45-degree angles. The 90-degree area within the foul lines is referred to as fair territory. This is the only place a ball can be hit towards for runs to count. The 270-degree area outside them is foul territory. Any balls hit within the outer area are 'foul balls.' The part of the field enclosed by the bases and several yards beyond them is the infield; the area farther beyond the infield is the outfield. In the middle of the infield is a raised pitcher's mound, with a rectangular rubber plate (the rubber) at its center. The outer boundary of the outfield is typically demarcated by a raised fence, which may be of any material and height. The fair territory between home plate and the outfield boundary is baseball's field of play, though significant events can take place in foul territory, as well.

Rules of Softball

The common mistake that most people make about softball is that it's just a child's version of baseball with a bigger ball and heavier bat. This is quite offensive to the Olympic athletes that compete in the most competitive branch of softball: fast-pitch.

In the most commonly played type, slow-pitch softball, the ball must arch on its path to the batter. In fast pitch softball, the pitch is too fast to arch, but the technique is different to pitching in baseball. The technique involves a swinging 'windmill' motion before throwing the ball under-arm. Fast pitch is very common in some American states, such as Virginia, where fast pitch is the most common. The Olympics features women's fast pitch softball. Modified softball restricts the "windmill" wind-up usually used by fast pitch pitchers, although the pitcher can throw as hard as possible with the restricted back swing.

For the most part, the rules are very similar, and to the untrained eye they look like the same sport. Once you pick up the subtle differences, not only can you see the difficulty of both sports, but you can appreciate them both this coming Olympics in which they'll both be featured.


The first officially recorded Baseball game occurred on June 4th 1838, in Beachville, Ontario. Although the first game occurred in Canada, it slowly became more and more popular in the US. By the 1850s, a craze had swept the nation and started to become known as the 'great American pastime', which it's still referred to as today. The history of baseball in its earliest iteration between the years of 1867 and the 1950s is fraught with racial prejudice, as black players were forced to play within a 'negro league', until the arrival of one Jackie Robinson sought to break down the barrier and let minorities play professionally at a prestigious level.

The earliest known Softball game occurred in its founding city of Chicago, Illinois on Thanksgiving day 1887. The ball was soft enough to be fielded barehanded, and apparently, it was a tight game ending 41-40. It was developed to be played indoors, to give baseball players the chance to play during the winter months. Until 1926, it was known as 'indoor baseball', 'kitten ball', 'diamond ball', 'mush ball' and 'pumpkin ball.' As it was slowly taken more seriously, the term 'softball' was coined and became a household name by the 30s.

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