What is the Difference Between Baseball and Softball?

Kris Roudebush

Baseball and softball are similar games, with the main difference between them being the size of the field and equipment. Most of the rules are similar, although in softball, the pitcher must pitch underhand. Baseball traditionally has been considered a sport for only boys and men, although this has changed to some degree, and softball is a sport that can be played by anyone of almost any age. Other differences between these sports typically depend on the age group and which specific set of rules is being followed.

Baseball fields are larger than softball fields.
Baseball fields are larger than softball fields.

Size of the Field

One of the most easily noticeable differences between these sports is the size of the field. Although the exact sizes can vary based on the players' age group, softball fields are smaller than baseball fields for players of the same age. On a full-size softball field, the bases are 60 feet (18.29 m) apart for fastpitch games or 65 feet (19.81 m) apart for slowpitch games, compared with 90 feet (27.43 m) apart on a full-size baseball field. The distance to the outfield fence also is less in softball — usually less than 250 feet (76.2 m), compared with usually more than 300 feet (91.44 m) in baseball.

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Baseball bats are generally longer and heavier than softball bats.
Baseball bats are generally longer and heavier than softball bats.

Size of the Ball

Another difference is that a baseball is smaller than a softball. A standard baseball for all ages of players is about 9 inches (22.86 cm) in circumference and weighs about 5 ounces (141.75 g). Softballs can vary depending on the age group and the type of softball being played, with standard fastpitch softballs being about 12 inches (30.48 g) in circumference and weighing about 6.5 ounces (184.27 g). A standard slowpitch softball is about 11 inches (27.94 cm) in circumference and weighs about 6 ounces (170.1 g). In addition, many softball organizations use a bright yellow ball, but baseball organizations almost always use white balls.

A baseball is about 9 inches in circumference.
A baseball is about 9 inches in circumference.


The way that a pitch can be thrown is different in baseball and softball. In softball, the pitch must be thrown underhand, but there is no such restriction in baseball. Although it would be legal for a baseball pitcher to throw underhand, it is virtually never done, because throwing overhand or sidearm allows the pitcher to throw with much more velocity. A "submarine-style" pitcher releases the ball from below his or her belt, but this is not a true underhand pitch and would not be legal in softball because the hand is farther away from the body than the elbow is.

Baseballs are thrown over the shoulder or side-armed, while softballs are pitched underhanded.
Baseballs are thrown over the shoulder or side-armed, while softballs are pitched underhanded.

The distance from home plate to the pitching rubber varies by age in both sports, but on a full-size baseball field, the rubber is 60 feet, 6 inches (18.44 m) from the plate, compared with a distance of no more than 46 feet (14.02 m) in softball. In baseball, the pitcher throws from a mound that, on a standard field, rises 10 inches (25.4 cm) above the level of the field. A softball pitcher throws from flat ground, inside what is called the pitcher's circle.

Because of their smaller size, baseballs can be hit farther than softballs.
Because of their smaller size, baseballs can be hit farther than softballs.

The specific rules that the pitcher must follow while on the mound or inside the circle, as well as before and during each pitch, are not the same in the two sports. For example, a softball pitcher must face directly toward home plate, with the shoulders square, before each pitch. Baseball pitchers, however, are not required to face home plate and can start in what is commonly called the stretch position. A right-handed pitcher faces third base from the stretch, and a left-hander faces first base.


Each sport has its own rules for the size of bats that can be used. These rules limit the length, diameter and weights of the bats. In general, baseball players use bats that are longer, heavier and larger in diameter than the bats used by softball players of the same age group. The bats in both sports can be made of wood, metal or other material, such as fiberglass or ceramic, although professional baseball players must use wood bats.

Other Differences

There are other differences between the sports, many of which can vary depending on the rules that are being followed. For example, some baseball leagues play nine-inning games, but regulation softball games typically are no more than seven innings long. In both sports, there usually are nine defensive players on the field, but some softball leagues use 10. Some of the other rules that might be different include those regarding base stealing, leading off base, the number of players who can bat and what happens when the batter is hit by a pitch.

Softballs are bigger and heavier than baseballs.
Softballs are bigger and heavier than baseballs.

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Discussion Comments


Cupcake15-I love watching baseball games. I don’t mind if I am watching little league baseball teams or softball teams because it is still exciting.

I like that there are nine innings because it gives the kids multiple chances to score and win the game. It is also a team oriented sport in which kids learn to work with other kids for the goodness of the team.

They also get to make friends with other kids and get some physical exercise which is good for them.

They learn about disappointment and how to deal with losing gracefully. Team sports like these can really help children develop character.


Softball is usually the female version of baseball games. The sport is played exactly like a little league baseball games but instead of using a hard regular baseball they use a softer baseball that is slightly larger.

Whether your child is on a little league baseball team or a softball team the experience is the same.

They get to learn how to hit the ball with aluminum baseball bats and run the bases. Sometimes a league will get discount youth baseball bats that will allow you to buy baseball bats at a discount.

Cheap baseball bats are important because you also have to spend money on the uniforms and joining the league as well. Buying discount baseball bats helps you save some money.


Why is there no standard size for playing surface in baseball fields?

Football fields 100 yards, basketball courts are the same in each city, tennis same size courts...

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