Both baseball and softball use a round ball, a bat and a glove. Both sports involve a pitcher throwing the ball to a batter with the hopes of getting him or her out. Both sports play for a certain number of innings and both sports require three outs to end the inning.
So, what's the difference between the two?
Obviously, there are major variations between softball and baseball and the two should not be referred to as the same sport, but often enough they are -- and that isn't right. Baseball and softball may have the same concept, but there are huge variations in how the games are played. I have personal experience with this because I play on a competitive level softball team, and I see the differences in the two games.
The first obvious variation is the ball. A softball is bigger than a baseball, and because of that softball players use a bigger mitt and a skinnier bat. A softball is not as hard as a baseball either.
The next variation is the pitching styles. A baseball player throws overhand on a mound at a distance of 60 feet from the batter in high school and college play. In softball, you throw underhand at a distance of 45 feet in high school and college games.
Both sports are played on a field that's shaped like a diamond. The outfield is grass in both sports. However, in baseball, you have a grass-covered infield with dirt in the base paths, whereas in softball, the infield is all dirt.
The size of the diamonds are different due to differences in base-path length. Standard baseball bases are 90 feet apart; softball bases are 60 feet apart. The distance from home plate to the outfield fence is much shorter in softball, because it is more difficult to hit a softball the same distance as a baseball.
The biggest variation between the two games is the rules. An official baseball game consists of nine innings as opposed to a seven-inning softball game.
The leadoff rule is also different in baseball; the runner may leave the base at any time. This usually involves a short lead off the base with the occasional stolen base attempt. In softball, a runner may not leave the base until the ball is released from the pitcher's hand.
A batter has 20 seconds to get set up before each pitch in baseball; in softball, you have just 10 seconds.
The strike zone is also a variation. In baseball, the zone runs from the top of the knees to halfway between the waist and shoulders. In softball, it is from the top of the knees to the armpits.
Some of the gear for the two sports is different, too. In baseball, you can wear metal cleats or a toe pick; in softball, once you are in the age 16 and up division you are allowed to wear metal cleats, but no toe pick.
Those are only a few of the rule variations. One other thing is different in softball than in baseball. In softball, girls have to learn the mental side of the sport, because they can't rely on physical strength and athletic ability to get them to the top of their game.
It bothers me when people refer to softball as being the same as baseball, because softball players don't have anywhere else to compete after college, and we work just as hard as any baseball player. We deserve our own name and not to be grouped with a sport that has a completely different set of rules. Softball is growing, and more young females are playing fast-pitch softball.
There are many things that are great about both sports. I can only say what I love about softball, because that's what I play. I have never played baseball, but I love being with my teammates in softball; I love the action that I get, and most of all I love proving that I am good enough to everyone, whether they're in the stands or they are my teammates. Most importantly, I love to prove to myself that I am good enough.
Softball has a much faster pace. I feel like there is more character to softball: We have cheers for the players, even the college athletes cheer, and we also have a pre-game dance that we do.
Maybe instead of attending a baseball game this spring and summer, you could give a softball game a try.
Morgan Pales is a sophomore at Fremont High School. She enjoys writing and playing on a travel softball team. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.