Softball is a team sport in which a ball, eleven to twelve inches in circumference, is thrown by a player called a pitcher and hit by an offensive player called a batter with a round, smooth stick called a bat. Scoring is accomplished by the batter running and touching a series of four markers on the ground called bases. Softball is a direct descendant of baseball, which is sometimes referred to as hardball to distinguish the two, but differs from it in several ways. This article assumes no knowledge of baseball.
The sport’s governing body, the International Softball Federation holds world championships, held every four years, in several categories.
Types of softball
There are three general forms of softball: slow pitch, fast pitch, and modified pitch.
- Fast Pitch softball is a very defensive, pitcher-oriented game. The pitcher delivers the ball at maximum speed with a flat arc, making the ball difficult to hit. There are many strikeouts and ground balls, and scores are low. Good pitchers are premium players.
- Slow Pitch softball gives batters more dominance by making it easier for them to hit the ball. There are two types of slow pitch softball, which use different-sized balls. A form using a larger ball, sometimes called Super-slow Pitch was written out of the official rules in 2002 but is still played informally.
- Modified Pitch softball places no restrictions on the speed of pitching; however, the technique must meet certain criteria.
In this article, unless stated otherwise, references to fast pitch include modified pitch, and references to slow pitch include the sixteen-inch form.