Everyone always says that baseball and softball are the same sport just a different size field. While that is very true that the field sizes are different, baseball and softball differ in more ways than they are the same. A softball field has a distance of 60 feet between each base with a pitchers mound being 43 feet from home plate. A baseball field has a distance of 90 feet between each base and a pitchers mound at 60 feet 6 inches. Another large difference between the two sports would be the size of the different balls. As you may know there are two different size balls in softballs. There is a small ball which has a circumference of 11 inches and diameter of 3.5 inches. This ball is used in youth softball usually for age groups 10 and under. The larger sized ball which has a circumference of 12 inches and diameter of 3.8 inches is used for age groups 12 and old.
The biggest difference between these two unique sports comes down to the different styles of pitching used. In baseball there is a raised mound causing the pitcher to throw at a downward trajectory. This allows the baseball hitters to only focus on 3 different types of movement: side-to-side, down and off speed. In softball there is a flat mound meaning the pitchers mound is at the same level as the hitter. Having the flat mound and the under arm style of throwing used in softball this now brings the rise ball pitch into play. The rise ball is thrown when a pitcher puts enough backwards spin on the softball that it causes the pitch to start at waist level of the hitter and end above the hitters hands by the time the catcher catches the pitch, making it extremely difficult to hit. Having a flat mound in softball also allows the pitchers to throw a drop ball as well. So not only do softball hitters have to worry about pitches moving side-to-side, off speed and down, they now have to be aware of the up pitch causing softball batters to focus on 4 types of movement vs. 3 like in baseball.
The second factor that comes into play when comparing these two sports is the reaction time the hitters have to decided whether or not they want to swing at the pitch thrown. In baseball a batter trying to hit an average 95 mph fastball from 60’6″, has .395 seconds to react to the pitch. In softball a batter trying to hit an average 70 mph softball from 43′, has .351 seconds to react to the pitch. Yes this may not seem like a big difference when comparing the times but having those extra 0.44 seconds give you that much longer to see the movement of the pitch and to tell whether or not it is a ball or strike. So, in the game of softball, batters have an average of 20% less time to react to a pitch compared to baseball.
If you were to originally ask someone which sport they thought would be harder to play, baseball or softball? Most would probably say that baseball would be the more difficult of the two to play but when comparing the two.