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8 softball rules

Last Updated: 07.05.19


This enjoyable game can be confusing for those who can’t really see the difference between softball and baseball. So before we elaborate on the basic rules, here’s are a few distinctions that could make things easier for you.

The main difference is that the softball is pitched underhand, while baseball players use an overhand pitch. Other notable differences refer to the size of the field, the length of the bats, the weight and feel of the ball.



The playing field is in the shape of a diamond and is made up of a home plate and three bases, known as the first base, second base, and third base. The area inside the clearly marked lines is the playing field, and the one outside is the foul area.

A batter’s box lies to the left and right of the home plate, and behind it, there’s the catcher’s box. At the center of the diamond, there’s a pitching mound.

The area surrounding the bases is called infield, a surface made of dirt or gravel, and the one outside is called outfield and is covered in grass. The foul line extends from the home plate to the first and third base.



On offense, batters have a wooden or aluminum bat they use to hit the ball. Wooden bats are used especially by professional players while aluminum or metal composite is more frequent in amateur games.

They wear batting gloves and helmets for protection. The players in defense use a leather glove to help them catch the ball. The catcher uses special equipment for protection, consisting of a face mask, chest protector, and shin guards.

All of the players wear distinctive uniforms including shoes with cleats, shorts, a jersey, pants, and knee-long socks. As you’ve probably noticed, players also wear a cap, headband or visor.



The game is played by 9 players (or 10 in the case of a fast-pitch softball match), each one with a specific job. A part of defense team has to stay in the infield; the pitcher, catcher, first baseman, second baseman, shortstop and the third baseman are placed there.

The left fielder, center fielder, and right fielder are in the outfield. There’s an extra outfielder in slow-pitched softball, called a roamer or rover.

On offense, the opposing players are aligned from 1 to 9 in what is called a batting order. Each player takes a turn on home plate. The batter’s aim is to reach first base safely and then go through the other bases without being put out.



The pitcher initiates the game by throwing the ball from the pitcher’s plate to the catcher, through the strike zone by using an underarm movement. As soon as he makes the pitch, he becomes another infielder and is ready to catch or stop the ball.

The catcher kneels or squats behind the home plate and returns the ball to the pitcher when the batter misses. He also guards the home plate against baserunners, is responsible for catching the pitches while the basemen try to receive throws from other.

The basemen have specific tasks that mainly consist of catching the ball and guarding the bases while outfielders usually act as the backup of the infielders.

The game

There are two basic types of softball, fast-pitch, and slow-pitch softball. They both follow the same rules, and the difference consists mainly of the speed at which the pitcher throws the ball.

Slow-pitched softball typically means the ball is pitched in a slow arc toward the home plate, while fast-pitched softball features quick pitches made with large movements and it’s primarily played by women.

The object of the game is to circle the bases and return to home plate without being tagged out. When a player on a team accomplishes that feat, they score a ‘run’. The team that scores the most runs in a game is the winner.



The play consists of seven innings, each of them with two halves. Both teams bat and play outfield, but the first or top half is when the visiting team bats, while the bottom (second) half is for the home team.

An out is recorded when the ball is fielded in the air or when a ball hitting the ground is thrown to first base before the runner arrives. When the defense records three outs, a half-inning is over.



A pitched ball is described as being either a strike or a ball. A pitched ball is a strike when it goes through the strike zone, and the batter misses or sends the ball in the foul area. If the pitch is out of the strike zone, then it’s a bad pitch, and it is called a ball.

Four balls allow the batter to walk to the first base. Three strikes without putting the ball in play give the defense team a strike out.


Batting and running

The batter’s goal is to become a baserunner by swinging at a pitch and sending the ball into the ground or send it into fair territory.

If a player sends the ball over the outfield in fair territory, then they can circle all four bases, and it’s called a home run.

Some of the hits are dead ball situations. When a batter sends the ball into foul territory, it is considered dead ball and the batter can return to the base safely before the next pitch.

Once the batter becomes a runner, he attempts to reach first base where he can remain safely until the next runner comes up. Adversaries can prevent that by putting runners out with the ball. In that case, the runners have to leave the field.

When a ball is touched or caught by the defending team, the runner has to return to its base and touch it before they continue to advance at their own risk. Touching the base is called ‘tagging up.’

In case a defensive player is holding the ball and touches first base, the runner is out.

Other rules concern umpires, coaches or substitutions as well as the situations that need to be handled in a game. Hopefully, the basic rules have now become clearer.



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