Softball: History, Rules And Best Italian Teams

Softball is a team game that comes from baseball, first played in the late 1800s. Let’s see what the rules are.

The softball is a sport very similar to the baseball team. In fact it derives from the latter, even if there are substantial differences between the two games. Let’s see together what are the origins of this sport and how it is played.

Where did softball originate?

The history of softball has its roots in the late 19th century and more precisely in Chicago in 1887. The paternity of this sport was attributed to George Hancock, a reporter for the Chicago Board of Trade. The first game was played on Thanksgiving day of that year, indoors or inside the Farragut Boat Club of the “Windy City”. In fact, at the beginning it was only competed indoors, so the game took the name of “Baseball Indoor”. Soon this sport began to be practiced also outdoors and after the drafting of the first rules, it was given the name of “Diamond Ball”. It was only from 1926 onwards that it began to be recognized around the world as “softball”, a name coined by Walter Hakanson.

How many players are there in softball?

It is a sport practiced by both men and women in the amateur field, while at the Olympic level the discipline is practiced only by women. As in baseball, the two opposing teams also have nine players (or female players) each in softball. These alternate on the pitch depending on whether they are playing in attack or in defense; however the differences with baseball are there but we will see them later.

What is women’s baseball called?

Women’s baseball can be equated with softball. In practice, during the war, in this sport the women replaced the men who left to become soldiers. Following the birth of indoor baseball, they continued to practice it, thanks to the modification of some rules that made this discipline even more suitable for the female gender. Today softball has been modernized and is certainly much more dynamic and spectacular than what was played over a century ago.

Softball rules

The rules of softball are very reminiscent of those of baseball, even if they are two different sports. Each game is divided into seven halves called “innings”. Each of these in turn is divided into two halves: in the first part the guests are at the bar and in the other part it beats the local team. Each half of an inning is played until three players are eliminated. A team pitcher throws the ball until he gets three strikes, which is when the ball lands in the strike zone without being intercepted by the batter. In addition, the pitcher continues to throw until he concedes four “balls”, ie when the ball goes out of the strike zone or when the batter manages to intercept and hit the ball.

In short, a batter is eliminated when the pitcher manages to get three strikes, or when an outside player manages to intercept the ball returned with the bat. A batter starts at home plate and when he knocks back a ball, he tries to run quickly to the next base and then returns to the starting point and thus scores a point. At the end of the seventh inning, the team that managed to score the most points wins the game. If there is a tie, it is possible to leave the result as it is or make a playoff by playing an extra inning. Clearly the winner is whoever gets the most points.

What we have described to you is the rules of traditional softball, as there are also variations, such as: fastpitch softball, slowpitch softball and modified softball.

What are the main differences between baseball and softball?

Without going too far into the history of baseball , let’s see together what are the main differences between this sport and softball. First of all, the second differs from the first not only for the rules but also for the size of the field, which are smaller and for the duration of a match, which is shorter. Additionally, a larger, heavier ball is used in softball, which is thrown differently than in baseball. The pitcher must throw the ball in such a way that it releases the ball when the hand is below the height of the hip with the arm.

In a baseball game, however, the ball can be thrown from any position. The launches can be of different types: windmill, slingshot or pendulum. In the first case, the arm makes a complete rotation upwards and then rotates downwards again. In the second and third cases, the throwing method must always respect the release of the ball with the hand at hip height. The softball bat is lighter than the baseball bat and is generally made of carbon fiber, aluminum, or other metal alloys; the wooden clubs were in fact abandoned already in the ’70s. As we anticipated, the softball field is smaller than the baseball one, in fact the first is 66 m long (minimum size), while the second 76.2 m (minimum size).

The bases of a softball court are 18m apart, while the distance between home plate and mound is 13m. Furthermore, inside the “diamond” (internal field) there is no raised embankment (mound) as in baseball. The duration of a game is also shorter, in fact there are seven innings, unlike the nine in baseball. Softball is mainly practiced by women who, armed with sports bras , team uniforms, clubs and gloves, have made this sport an Olympic discipline. Among the best Italian teams we remember: Bollate, Saronno, Forlì, Bussolengo, DES Caserta, La Loggia.

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