If you’re not so familiar with the world of baseball, you may have gotten confused in the past when hearing the term “softball”. After all, isn’t it pretty much the same thing? Well, for the most part, it is indeed the same thing. But there are a few clear differences, and the differences are big enough that people consciously make decisions to play one or the other specific to their needs. Here’s what the differences are.
The Obvious One
The most obvious difference, which we think you could have guessed, is that the ball used in baseball and the ball used in softball aren’t the same. But what you may not have guessed is how they’re different, and why it’s important.
First off, softballs are slightly larger than baseballs, and they’re also softer. However, when you combine a softball’s softness with its larger size, it makes for a harder ball to hit. It’s not harder to make contact, but it’s harder to hit the ball longer distances.
Why It’s Significant
This is significant because pickup games, where pitchers aren’t exactly pitching 90 miles an hour, would require a ball that’s a bit harder to hit. If amateur pitchers at pickup games pitched with regular baseballs, batters would be sending those balls flying left and right—and the scores would be off the charts. To balance this out, a softball makes for a more calibrated game.
Conversely, in the major leagues, using smaller baseballs makes a lot more sense because pitchers are so dominant that even the greatest batters on earth have a hard time hitting them. Home runs happen in the pros, sure, but not too much that the game loses its gravity as a result.