Baseball vs Softball: What is the Difference?

Baseball and softball are very different sports, despite looking similar on the outside. Baseball bats average around 33 inches long, while softball bats are around 34 inches long. 

Additionally, softballs are much larger than baseballs, measuring around 11.88–12.13 inches compared to a baseball’s 9 inches.

The rest of the article will break down each similarity and difference between baseball vs. softball, helping you understand each sport better. 


When was softball invented?

Softball and baseball have been tied together since the invention of softball because it was first developed to be the inside version of baseball. Created in Chicago, softball was first played by a group of baseball players who wanted to play inside during the intense winter of 1887. 

This led to differences in ball and bat sizes, as well as field sizes. The softball game did not officially become its own sport until softball leagues were created around the 1930s, when official rules were established. 

When was baseball invented?

The origin of baseball has been widely discussed and challenged, but the most widely accepted version is that folks began to play baseball in the early 1800s. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, future baseball players started to combine a variety of different stickball games, eventually creating the games baseball and softball players know and love today.

After this, the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York set up the first official regulation baseball game for professional baseball players, along with the official rules. Major league baseball officially got its start in 1903 when the two U.S. professional baseball leagues combined.

Why are baseball bats shorter?

Baseball and softball bats have a slight size variation, with baseball bats coming in at 33 inches as compared to softball bats’ 34 inches. Despite this, baseball bats tend to weigh more than softball bats, which enables the batter to hit the ball with more power. 

Both baseball and softball bats can be made out of wood. Using wooden bats has been said to improve players’ technique and hitting strategy.

Why are softball bats longer?

Because softball was created to be an indoor sport, softball bats were invented to keep balls from being hit as hard and far as baseballs. 

Softball bats tend to be not only longer than baseball bats, but also lighter, allowing for a softer hit to the larger softball. This way, softball players could safely play inside without hitting the ball with the same force.

Why are softballs bigger?

Softballs are larger and heavier than baseballs. A regulation softball measures between 11.88 and 12.13 inches in circumference. 

This is for several reasons, one of which goes back to the fact that softball was invented to be played indoors. 

Due to its size, the softball would not travel as far when hit, beneficial for indoor play. Another reason would be that the pitcher’s mound is usually a shorter distance from the batter box, making the balls easier to hit. 

Why are baseballs smaller?

Baseball was created before softball, its origins including games called rounders and cricket. Due to this, baseball was an outdoor sport played with plenty of space. 

So baseballs are designed to be hit far and hard. The regulation baseball measures a circumference of 9–9.25 inches.

Why are softballs yellow?

Softballs are yellow for many of the same reasons they are bigger than baseballs. The pitching distance differs in softball and baseball, with softball having a shorter distance between the pitcher’s mound and the batter box. 

This allows less time for the batter to react to the softball pitcher’s throw, and the bright yellow of the ball lets softball players see it more clearly, allowing them to react to it more easily than if it were white. 

How is the ball pitched in softball?

A big difference between softball and baseball games is how the pitcher throws the ball. While baseball pitchers throw overhand, softballs are always thrown in an underhand pitching motion.

This is because pitchers playing softball are throwing from about 43 feet away from the batter, and softballs typically leave the pitcher’s hand at around or over 60mph. 

Are there other pitches in softball?

Regulation softball rules allow a variety of pitches, but they are all thrown underhand. Some of the most popular pitches in the sport are fastball, changeup, rise ball, curveball, and drop ball. 

These all allow the game to stay interesting, while still staying with the same type of pitch. A fastpitch softball is one of the most classic pitches.

In fact, the professional women’s softball league is called the National Pro Fastpitch.

Why is the ball pitched overhand in baseball?

Baseballs are pitched overhand because, unlike softball, pitchers stand 60 feet and 6 inches from the batter. Additionally, balls tend to travel faster than 90mph, a much faster speed than softballs. 

The average baseball pitcher almost always throws overhand or sidearm; however, baseball rules state that a pitcher can throw underhand if they choose to do so.

Are there other pitches in baseball?

Since there are no real rules in the way a baseball can be pitched, baseball has a wide range of angles, curves, and pitching styles. This also includes curveballs, but there are also forkballs, gyroballs, screwballs, and splitters, among many others. 

The large variety of styles make the game exciting, though there is not a noticeable difference in the difficulty of hitting a baseball compared to hitting a softball.

Is there a difference in the length of games?

Baseball games have nine innings and, if tied, can end up with extra innings. Softball games have seven innings but can end early depending on how large of a lead one team has on the other. 

An example of this would be one team having a 15-run lead in three innings, or maybe a seven-run lead in five.

Both games allow unlimited free defensive substitutions, which means that players are allowed to enter and leave the game for other players multiple times throughout the game. 

Are the fields the games are played on different?

Another huge difference between the two games is that softball fields are smaller than baseball fields. This can vary based on the age of players. 

Although the bases in both games are laid out the same way, bases in softball are 60 feet apart, and baseball bases are 90 feet apart.

Additionally, the distance between home plate and the outfield fence is usually no more than 250 yards in softball, when the same distance measures over 300 feet in baseball.

The foul territory and fair territory in both games is the same, with a foul ball being any that drops into the part of the playing field outside the first and third base lines extending to the fence.

Are pitching mounds different?

The pitcher’s mound in softball is different from baseball. 

In fact, softball pitchers throw from a flat pitching circle and players must stay in a designated area on the release. Baseball pitchers throw from a slightly elevated mound.

As stated earlier, the distance from the mound to home plate in softball is at most 43 feet from the plate, which happens to be around the same distance as Little League baseball.

Which sport is better?

Both baseball and softball have youth leagues, adult leagues, and are played professionally. However, many are discouraged by the fact that the average salary for professional softball players is laughably lower than that of baseball players.

For instance, the average pro baseball player makes $4 million per year, while the average pro softball player makes $44,000 a year. This incredible difference in the professional salaries of the two sports has been addressed by many players and fans, and is something that will hopefully change over the coming years.

The two sports may seem similar from the outside, but really have plenty of differences. Although most players have their preferences, there is no saying which sport is better than the other. 

Players should decide which game to play based on the love they have for them.