Just How Different Is Softball And Baseball?

Just How Different Is Softball And Baseball?

Take a deeper look at the origins of both softball and baseball to better understand what makes them similar and different.

Jul 1, 2020 by Jessica Todd
Just How Different Is Softball And Baseball?

Softball and baseball are two of the most popular sports in the world. Because of their similar rules and guidelines, they are often compared or associated with each other. While that may be true in some cases, there are key differences between them that show just how diverse these games are. 

Softball Origins

While many assume softball came about as a “girl version” of baseball, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Softball was invented on Thanksgiving Day in Chicago of 1887 when alumni were waiting for a Yale-Harvard football game. After spreading like wildfire to other cities and groups, Walter Hakanson finally coined the term “softball” in 1926. Later in 1934, the Joint Rules Committee on Softball created a standard ruleset for the sport, ensuring this game was here to stay. 

After a large spark of popularity, the sport continued to grow and spread throughout the world. Softball was listed as an official Olympic sport in 1991, serving as a huge landmark for the game. Despite being dropped in 2012, it’s still maintained a faithful and committed community of support. While this game was originally intended to be played indoors, it’s evolved to be enjoyed anywhere and by anyone. Whether it’s a corporate recreational team or professional fastpitch, this game is a true definition of inclusion and athleticism. 

Baseball Origins

The Old American Pastime began much earlier in the 18th century after resembling similar games like cricket. In 1845, standard rules were created by men in the New York Knickerbocker Baseball Club; a year later they played their first official game of baseball and the rest was history. 

Major League Baseball is composed of two leagues, the National League (NL) and the American League (AL). The NL was formed in 1876 and 15 years later in 1901 the AL was created. Two years after that, the first World Series was held and set precedent of the NL/AL rivalry. From little league to the Majors, this game appeals to the heartstrings of many and has grown to be one of the largest sports in the world. That said, the game has definitely had its ups and downs. However by persevering through world wars, segregation, natural disasters and more, this game stands strong and has never wavered in its place as this nation’s pastime. 

Game Similarities & Differences

While there are fundamental similarities to how these games are played, there are more differences than one might think. Although linked to each other, these are truly two individual and separate games. 



  • Field: Both sports are played on a diamond field with four bases- home plate, first, second, and third. 
  • Positions: Both games have the same number and types of positions for players on the field. 
  • Equipment: Despite using different sizes or materials, both games use the same type of equipment (gloves, bats, balls) to play. 

  • Pitching: Softball players pitch underhand on a leveled field while baseball pitchers throw overhand on an inclined mound.
  • Ball Size: Softballs range from 11.88-12.13 inches in circumference; baseballs measure between 9-9.25 inches in circumference. 
  • Field Size: A softball field is measured with 60 ft between each base, but a baseball field is 90 ft. 
  • Regulation Innings: A standard softball game is played with seven innings while a standard baseball game is played with nine. 
  • Speed Of The Game: Because softball is played on a smaller field, the tempo of the game can be quicker than it is for baseball.

Although intertwined, softball and baseball have their own unique histories and evolution. At the end of the day, both of these games are played and enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people. They help bring communities together and represent just how great sports can be.