Is baseball a slower game than softball?

Is baseball a slower game than softball

Softball and baseball correlate in many ways. But, they also differ. They are very similar in the object of the game. That is, two teams playing against each other, with one team trying to outrun the other for points.

Whichever team scores more wins the game. However, the pitch dimensions, equipment, and strategies are somewhat different in softball.

The biggest dissimilarity comes in ball size.

In softball:

  • Players use an 11” or 12” ball as opposed to baseball’s 9”.
  • The softball pitch is also different. The base path is 60 feet apart, whereas baseball is 90 feet apart.

 What about speed? Is baseball slower than softball?

 Although this debate will most likely never be settled, it doesn’t stop people from trying. In this article, we dissect the speed of play involved in all softball and baseball aspects to determine “what’s” what!

 Here we go.


Within the field, speed is king in softball. A leap pitcher can unravel throws topping 70 miles per hour (mph). This means from about 37 feet away, a softball pitch can reach the plate in only 35 hundredths of a second. This means after locating and identifying a fastball; a softball athlete has roughly 25 milliseconds to decide the swing.

This translates to 55 percent less time over a major league hitter.

Although batters might find it difficult to handle the speed of play, it can be even more challenging for infielders. When the bat strikes the ball at velocities nearing 100mph, a shortstop has left time to respond and catch a line drive.

This is less time than it takes some tennis players to respond to a “Novak Djokovic’s” serve.

Less than 3.2 seconds is the time required for softball fielding grounders to get the ball first. That’s more than a second quicker than a typical major league hitter can reach first.

 During a slap hit, the infield’s slap-hitting time is even less. This enables the batter actually to move toward the ball while swinging. In scientific terms, the hitter overcomes their resting inactivity well before the ball enters play.

 With what’s essentially a running start, slap hitters reach speeds up to 19mph. They can get to first in as little as 2.66 seconds. If a third baseman takes more than 1.5 seconds to field the slap hit down the third-base line, it becomes nearly impossible to throw the runner out of first. You’d have to unleash the throw at more than 100 mph to get out.

Baseball vs. Softball Bats and Gloves

Base Dealing

Another thing to consider is base dealing. Even with rules against leading off, a quick runner can get from first to second base in just three seconds. This means, on average, a softball catcher trying to nail a runner has to get off a throw about a tenth of a second faster than a major league catcher.

Is There a Difference in Bat Swing?

The reason why we bring this up is that many people think the swings are different. Well, we disagree. Here’s where we think a lot of people misunderstand. 

In baseball, we stand on a 10-inch mound, depending on the age. Players throw from up a hill down the hill, so the ball pretty much is traveling at a downward angle.

 In softball, they’re on the same level as the batter. The players flow that ball underhand and release it somewhere down. The problem is some players think, “well, the ball is traveling up, and it’s going to do so.” That’s not correct.

It’s the same way in baseball. Even though we’re throwing downhill, it could drop as much as four feet if it’s done less than 92 miles an hour from 60 feet away. So if the ball starts at six feet, it could potentially get down to two.

 It’s hard to see that with the eye. But, it’s been proven through cameras. The same principle applies to softball. Even though the ball is released and goes up, gravity takes over and starts pulling it down. By the time it gets across the plate, it’s coming at a downward angle.

 Anywhere from what pro athletes see is mostly between four and nine degrees. Depending on the age, it could be 11 or 12 downward for younger players. With that in mind, am sure you are going to be swinging down because you think the ball is rising up, right?

 Well, if you’re thinking that, then you’re swinging down on a ball that’s actually coming down. This is where baseball swings and softball swings become similar.

 We want to get into our front foot and have our front shoulder down. We also want to create torque and ground force. Thus, the basic principles of the baseball swing apply to the softball swing.

Do Baseballs Go Farther than Softballs

General Rules: Baseball vs. Softball

In baseball, runners are free to lead off and steal anytime they like. However, fast-pitch softball sometimes allows cheating, but the runner cannot move until the ball has left the pitcher’s hand. Moreover, adult softball leagues usually forbid players from stealing. However, some leagues allow it when the ball crosses the plate.

In fast-pitch softball, any base runners must go back to their bases or attempt to advance to the next base when the pitcher approaches the pitching circle with the ball.

Runners in a softball game cannot move back and forth in the baseline to bait the pitchers. The umpire is authorized to call out runners breaking this rule. Baseball doesn’t have a regulation like this, yet both games employ balls, strikes, and the same positions. However, adult softball fields ten players on the pitch.

 Occasionally, baseball teams may field a “rover” player who sits behind the shallow center. Although, most teams prefer to use four outfielders. While it varies by league, many adult softball leagues begin at-bats with a 1-and-1 count. This helps quicken the pace of games.

Other Rules

Softball leagues use this regulation to ratchet up the pace of their games. One to waste indicates that the hitter may foul off the ball once with two strikes. After the two strikes, the batter gets out on the second foul ball.

 As you would expect, none to waste means you’ll be out on the first ball you foul off with two strikes.

 Adult softball leagues have a double bag at first, making it a significant difference between both sports. A double bag comprises two bases linked to one another. One lies in the fair area while the other is in the foul territory.

 Runners must contact the base in the offensive zone to get through the first base. This base is often eye-catching, with a bright orange or another color that overshadows standard white bases.

 Fielders must contact the white base in the fair area for a sprinter to be signaled out on a force play at first base. This lessens the collision occurrence. For both sports, regular bases are 15″ in length and 3-5″ wide.

What About Innings?

In contrast to baseball, softball games often go seven innings at the top level. Slow-pitch softball leagues are unique in that they use a higher pitch.

Several leagues require softball pitchers to toss their pitches between 6 and 12 feet in height. When angles are excessively high or too flat, umpires may declare them unlawful. When this occurs, a ball is added to the count even if the hitter doesn’t swing.

Some leagues allow pitchers to throw the ball as high as possible while still making contact with the plate. These leagues are known as unlimited-height softball leagues. A softball practically straight down on you is way more challenging to hit than one at chest height.

Why do Females Play Softball Instead of Baseball

Baseball vs. Softball Bats and Gloves

There are many different types of baseball and softball bats. However, both sports use alloyed bats. The alloy combines aluminum and other metals, refined carbon fiber, composite handles, and alloy barrels. Pro-league baseball players use wooden bats.

 Baseball and softball bats are either “one-piece” or “two-piece.” One-piece bats are more rigid than two-piece bats. On the contrary, the handle of two-piece bats is joined to the barrel, allowing for additional flex.

Companies also design baseball bats with the Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) in mind. These bats lessen the trampoline effect, which results from a bat hitting a baseball. Organizers implemented this regulation to safeguard baseball players, notably pitchers who often lack sufficient reaction time to hit balls.

 BBCOR bats cannot exceed a drop of 3 (-3). This indicates that the bat’s length-to-weight ratio cannot be higher than 3. For instance, a 32″ long bat must weigh at least 29 ounces. The models of these bats include hybrid, composite, and aluminum versions.

Baseball and softball players often wear similar-looking gloves in addition to bats. The primary difference between baseball and softball gloves is that the former usually have longer and deeper pockets to suit the bigger size of softballs.

Who Uses Larger Bats?

Softball bats typically have a shorter length than baseball bats do. In contrast to the latter, which typically has a length limit of 34 inches, the former may be up to 42 inches long.

People Also Ask

  1. Do Baseballs Go Farther than Softballs?

Indeed, baseballs go farther than softballs. In baseball, the length of the home plate to the fence differs but can reach up to 400 feet. The size is much smaller in softball (up to 25 feet). That’s why baseballs go farther than softballs.

  1. Why do Females Play Softball Instead of Baseball?

Women work better with a smaller field and oversized balls. Hence, most females prefer softball since the home plate and pitching mounds are minuscule. The justification for these things is that women’s hands are smaller and lack the strength to toss the ball as effectively on a baseball field.

4 thoughts on “Is baseball a slower game than softball?”

  1. Hello,

    I used to play softball when I was younger. Okay a lot younger, but I would have preferred to play baseball but that was not allowed back then. That being said, you have written a very informative article about many of the differences between the two. And although you were thorough, I have to say that I still come down on the side of baseball being a faster game.

    Have a wonderful day!

    • Hi, Brandaley, and thank you.

      Thank you for your kind words.

      Reading your comment, this could be interesting for you. It is a guide for the Little league of Baseball and softball.

      Great to hear about your benefit of the article too.

      Don’t hesitate to contact me to help you with anything else or if you have any questions.

  2. Being South African I always thought that baseball was actually softball as we do baseball more here. I was surprised to read that the ball size differs for one and so does the bat. Reading this article, I can see I grew up with baseball and not softball and it was my favorite game at school. 

    Because you say females prefer softball maybe I would have too, but I guess I won’t get a chance to try it out. 

    • Hi, Michel Maling, and thank you.

      Thank you for your kind words.

      This is just a statistic that shows it. But having said that, there are a lot of genders in the other sport too. I guess it has a part in the social tradition.

      Here is an article about the Little league of Softball and Baseball. It would be helpful for you too!

      Great to hear about your benefit of the article too.

      Don’t hesitate to contact me to help you with anything else or if you have any questions.


Leave a Comment

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.