Stop underestimating softball.
Softball players all around the world are tired of hearing about how “softball isn’t a sport,” “softball is easier than baseball,” “anyone can play softball,” and even more degrading comments.
The quickest way to get on a softball player’s bad side is to argue that baseball is harder than softball or even that it’s the same thing.
Baseball is a completely different sport and many people – including scientists – will and have argued that softball is actually harder.
Let’s get into some of the arguments, shall we?
One of the basic points many people bring forward is that baseball pitchers throw harder than softball pitchers, but when you break it down, it tells a different story.
In baseball, a 95 mph fastball will cross the plate in 0.425 seconds after leaving the pitchers hand (Fox 13 news), while a 60 mph softball pitch takes 0.38 seconds (girls-fastpitch.blogspot.com).
This means that the reaction time is about the same with softball actually being a little shorter.
Your next point may then be that the ball is bigger in softball, which is fair, except that actually makes it harder to hit square.
A baseball is 9 – 9 ¼ inches in circumference while a softball’s circumference is 12 inches.
When looking at these balls, the center (the part you need to hit to have a successful, hard hit) is the same size but the extra space is bigger on a softball. This means that it is harder to find the center of the ball and it allows for more popups and ground balls to be hit while in baseball, the batter may have just missed the ball if they didn’t hit it in the center and gotten another pitch to hit square.
With all this being said, it’s important to remember that the barrel of the bat (where the ball is hit) is larger in baseball, creating more surface area for a smaller ball to hit.
Along with the size of the ball making it harder to hit a softball square, it also changes how hard it is to throw and spin the ball.
The average length of a man’s hand in the United States is 7.6 inches while a woman’s average hand length is 6.8 inches (healthline.com).
You need to use your fingers to spin the balls and having a larger hand means the palm can be off the ball, making it easier to throw the ball harder and with more spin. When the ball is stuffed into the palm, it can get stuck and won’t be able to peel off the fingers as well.
Another point to keep in mind is that the average time it takes a batter to reach first base from home in baseball is 4.3 seconds (hsbaseballweb.com) while in softball it’s 3.3 -3.5 seconds (discussfastpitch.com).
This means the fielders have less time to throw the runner out in softball. If a ball is bobbled on the infield in baseball, the player can usually recover and still get the batter out at first. In softball, once you bobble a ball, the chances of getting the runner out is almost zero.
All of these points are just the beginning of why softball is a legitimate sport that shouldn’t be in baseball’s shadow.
Other points include a flatter slope of the ball’s flight path during a pitch in softball (making it harder to get a higher trajectory on a solid hit to hit a home run), how softball is a faster running game in general, more runners finding ways to get into a scoring position in softball because of things like the differences in stealing bases, a lack of technologies and scientific studies on how best to play and move, and much more.
So next time someone tries discounting softball, instead of agreeing, have the conversation and help us bring some much deserved respect into the game from the rest of the sporting world.
Sam Bailey is a Pilot Grove, Mo., sophomore studying journalism. She is the Collegian’s Editor in Chief and a pitcher for the Blue Dragon softball team.