Softball and baseball—some of us, at one time in our lives, have confused one with the other. That comes as no surprise since the two sports appear almost similar to each other, not to mention that they are both top popular sports.
Subtle differences distinguish softball from baseball. For example, it is undeniable that softball came after baseball. Experts refer to softball as baseball’s “descendant.” And so we ask the question: “which is harder, softball or baseball”?
Which is the Harder Sport, Softball or Baseball
There is no simple answer to the question: is softball harder than baseball? The idea of a sport either being hard or easy tracks a subjective spectrum of experience. While one would say that the former is a lot harder to play, another person would claim that the latter is actually more difficult.
Recently, an article says that softball is harder than baseball. But in the end, the truth is more complex than pitting the two sports against each other. As it turned out, several factors determine whether one sport is harder than the other, or vice versa.
What Makes Either Softball and Baseball Difficult
Here are some areas in the two sports that mark their differences (therefore, making them difficult in their own rights):
Softball pitchers can switch between several control techniques using their fingertips along the ball’s seams. They easily control the speed of the ball.
Softball players pitch the ball from below, requiring a uniquely smooth batting technique from the batter. Note that all these would happen in a 43-45 feet distance, with the pitcher throwing a raging ball at a speed of over 60mph to the batter. In calculation, that would only give the batter .350 seconds to react to the ball.
In the case of baseball, pitching comes in varieties like a curveball or a drop ball, and the distance between the pitcher and the batter is over 60 ft. All pitching moves follow a high-to-low trajectory path that reaches the home plate at an estimated .38 seconds, giving the batter a longer time to react.
At a glance, these statistics on speed and trajectory should make a softball harder to hit than a baseball. But, that is not always the case.
Sometimes, baseball is harder than softball. It will be hard if the batter is not used to the visuals of the high-to-low motion of the ball or is not prepared for the various pitching motions. In addition, among major league games, the speed for throwing balls could go extremely high.
So although the ball has much farther to travel, it can still catch a hitter off-guard and mislead him with an unexpectedly shorter travel time.
In conclusion: Although stark differences in the distance from the mound to the home plate and reaction time make softball slightly more complex than baseball, the unique challenges inherent in the two games make comparing them, in terms of difficulty, a futile act.
Home Run Distance
Softball balls are heavier. However, the balls are designed to match a smaller sport field and, therefore, a shorter home run distance (approximately 200 ft.).
Baseballs, on the other hand, are lighter. They are made for traveling farther distances within a bigger field (double the size of that of a softball field).
The two games’ ease and difficulty can be based on the home run distance.
Specifically, baseball players have a longer time to steal, while the smaller field of softball makes stealing more difficult.
At the same time, it’s argued that base running is easier for a softball player than a baseball player.
So again, like the above factor, it would be impossible to come up with a certain answer to the “softball vs baseball which is harder” comparison.
Some batters in softball teams use slapping techniques; in other words, they move towards the ball and hit it. Slapping, for instance, can mislead the infielder and delay her reaction time. However, only a left-handed batter can execute a slap successfully.
A baseball batter, in some instances, does execute slap bunting. But slap bunting is seldom done in baseball, as it’s tough to get infield hits in 90-feet base distances.
The absence of this technique both make baseball hitting easy and difficult at the same time. Easy, because it would not put in challenges to the infielder; difficult, as it would be complicated to make this move effective in playing baseball.
Ultimately, the difficulty of a batting experience in either of the sports depends entirely on the raw power, capacity, technique, and reaction speed of the players.
What Are Other Differences Between Softball and Baseball
Here is a quick run-down of the major differences between the two:
- Baseball usually consists of men, while softball consists of women.
- Pitchers in softball throw from below; pitchers in baseball throw overhand.
- Baseball has a bigger diamond field (90 ft. distance between bases); softball has a smaller field (60 ft. distance between bases).
- A softball compared to baseball is bigger and heavier. Measuring between 11-12 inches in circumference and weighing between 6-7 ounces, a softball has a smaller distance to cover.
- On the other hand, a baseball measures only 9-9.25 inches in circumference and weighs between 5-5.25 ounces, allowing faster travel within bigger areas.
- Baseball bats measure longer (42 inches max) than softball bats (34 inches max).
- A baseball game takes longer to finish (with nine innings) than a softball game (7 innings). More so, a softball game can end ahead of time whenever the official scorer decides that another team is scoring much more than the other.
- The lead-off rule makes a huge difference for the two games. In baseball, the runner can go out of his base even before the ball is released; in softball, a runner must stay on her base and can only move out when the ball is finally released.
What Are Some Similarities Between Baseball and Softball
Tired of the baseball vs softball debate? Check out some similarities between the two:
- Both are played on a grass field.
- Both have the same positions.
- Both involve pitching, batting, base-running, throwing, fielding, catching, etc.
- Both have slap bunting rules and substitution rules.
- Both make use of gear like gloves and bats, albeit with different designs and specs.
The answer to the question: “Which is harder, softball or baseball?” is not a simple choice of either of the two. As we have discovered in this article, the harder sport might entirely depend on the subjectiveness of the player’s experience.
In the context of each game, players are expected to experience their own sets of comforts and challenges.
One thing remains certain: both are not easy for any player.