Softball is a sport loved and played by countless millions across US and around the world. We have launched this series to answer basic questions about softball.
What’s the Best Season for Playing Softball?
Like every sport, softball has its proper season. This season refers to the time of the year when players gear up for practice, preparation and participation in the local, regional and state-level play. Typically, softball season begins in November when softball teams start conditioning. Conditioning comprises of various drills and exercise routines that prepare the players for the long and tough season haul ahead. Once the conditioning is over, the first practice begins in January.
First practice, as the name indicates, is the time when softball players get on with more hands-on training on the field. This is the time for players to improve their hitting, pitching and playing techniques. The district competitions begin in February. This is followed by the regional tournaments which begin in April and May. Finally, the sectional and state-level softball matches are played from May to the end of June. So every year, November to June is essentially the main softball playing season for teams and players alike.
Who can Play Softball?
Softball requirements vary from one league to another. Typically, there are various softball leagues for different age groups. The Little League Softball, for instance, is for players who are aged 9-12. Local softball leagues usually accept players aged 10-12 whereas senior leagues require players to be at least 16 years of age. In general, the age requirement varies from one league to another.
School students as well as college students are eligible to play softball in their respective league. Players who demonstrate the physical strength and skill required to play the game are shortlisted and become part of local, regional and state teams.
Can You Play Softball on a Baseball Field?
A softball field may look like a baseball field but there are vital differences between the two. For a start, the distance between the home plate and the pitching spot is different on both fields. This distance is 60.5 feet for a baseball field while it is only 35-43 feet for a softball field. Similarly, the distance between the bases is also larger on a baseball field compared to a softball field. On a baseball field, this distance is 90 feet. On a softball field, however, the distance is 60 feet.
The overall size of the field is also smaller in the case of softball. The home run fence in the centre field is located around 220 feet from the home plate on a softball field. On a baseball field, the fence is 400 feet away.
It is important to note here that a baseball is much harder than a softball and pitching speeds as well as hitting speeds are greater in baseball. These may account for the largeness of distances and the greater size of the field overall.
Can You Play Softball with a Baseball Glove?
Softball and baseball gloves may look quite similar in appearance but there are notable differences between the two. One of the main reasons for these differences is the disparity in ball size. A softball is larger, so it typically requires a large glove whereas baseball is comparatively smaller and so are baseball gloves. Typically, baseball gloves range from 11.25 inches to 13 inches. In comparison, softball gloves range from 11.5 inches to 15 inches.
The size of the opening is also different for baseball and softball gloves. A baseball glove has a larger opening compared to a softball glove.
That being said, it is possible to use a baseball glove for playing softball. For instance, a baseball glove for outfielders can be adapted for use by softball infielders. The glove size and shape may not be ideal but still, it can be used as a temporary fixture. However, there is a great chance that the baseball glove may sustain some damage when used in a softball game unless it is properly broken in by using a softball first. This is because a baseball glove is meant for a smaller baseball and in order to use it with the larger softball, you need to stretch its size to purpose.
How to Play Softball Outfield?
Outfield is the area of a softball field which is located beyond the core area of the bases. The outfield is vitally important for a team because it serves as the last line of defense where outfielders can intercept the softball hit by the opposing team. This is why you have to be really good when playing at the outfield.
To be effective at outfield, you have to master a few things. The most important of these is catching a flyball. As the name suggests, this is when a softball is hit into the air and comes towards you without any bounce. You need good judgment and practice in order to intercept and catch a flyball. Another thing you should master as an outfielder is to intercept grounders. Again, as the name suggests, a grounder is a softball when it has been hit and comes bouncing along the ground. You must keep your eyes focused on the ball and lean down towards the ground without losing your balance. This gives you a better stance to intercept the softball.
Once you have the softball in your hand, you must throw it effectively towards the bases. This is another crucial part of outfield play. The right way to throw the ball is to hold it in your fingers and away from the palm, stand perpendicular to the direction of the throw and use an overhand motion to throw the ball. You need to practice this routine to ensure that you are able to achieve the optimal speed and accuracy when throwing the ball.
In forthcoming articles, we will address other important questions regarding the game play, player positions and other aspects of the sport.