Softball and Baseball – What is The Difference?

Sports are by their nature different, albeit similar in nature. They are all competitive. Some are participatory, others are individual sports. But, some sports are so similar to one another that you cannot tell the difference without taking a deep dive into what makes them special.

Take softball and baseball. They both have a similar principle of pitching, batting, using wooden (or composite/aluminium) bats. But, there are differences between the two sports, some large enough that you will be surprised when you learn what they are. Here is a closer look at softball versus baseball.


Firstly, there is a large difference in the type of bats that are used in softball versus baseball. Baseball uses wooden bats only at the professional level. Amateurs are allowed to use composite bats, meaning at the high school or even college levels. Softball bats can be composite or wooden, or even aluminium. Baseball bats are longer than softball bats.

The Balls

Softball is a rather specific name and it has a lot to do with the density of the ball. It is 12 inches in radius, meaning that it is larger than a baseball. It is also softer and has less density, hence the name softball. The ball used in baseball is 9 inches in its radius and has more density. The baseball is harder to hit, due to its smaller size. In softball, smaller balls are allowed when children are practicing, so that they can actually hold them.

The Fields

Here is where you will find some of the more glaring differences. The field is always an important factor in all sports, and baseball and softball’s fields are very different from one another. The format is the same, but the distance between the bases is different. Softball fields are typically smaller. There is a variance in size, but typically, softball bases are 60 feet apart, while in baseball, they are 90 feet apart. The smaller softball fields make it an easier sport, coupled with the larger ball, that should be easier to hit. 

The Pitching

Pitching is one of the most important parts of baseball. You know of the elevated mount on which the pitcher stands, throwing an overhand shot in order to try and strike out the batter. The distance between the pitcher and batter is 60 feet in baseball. In softball, the distance is obviously smaller, typically 43 feet away. Softball, however, has a different approach to pitching. 

While overhand pitching is common in baseball, and recommended so that the pitcher can get enough speed and power to throw the ball, softball players often prefer underhand pitching. In softball, the pitcher’s mound isn’t actually a mound, but a flat plate.

What About Income?

This is where you can literally count the distance between the two sports. It is huge.

An average salary for a Major League Baseball player is around 4 million US dollars. That is the average annual salary. Softball, or rather, fastpitch softball, which is the most popular competitive type of softball, does not pay as much. Their top tier league, National Pro Fastpitch, does not have the same following as MLB and with that, the salaries are around 40000 US dollars, annually. The differences are obvious, which is why most look towards baseball rather than softball, as a career choice. 

As with most sports, there are differences, even though the two look similar enough. Baseball and softball appear similar and they do share the field, bat, pitching, to an extent, but there are differences between them. The size of the field, type of bat, the way they pitch, not to mention the salaries, make up some of the differences between baseball and softball.