With the popularity of softball, it is inevitable that multiple variations exist to appeal to different types of players. Part of the appeal of softball is that any age, sex and skill level player can participate and be competitive if they find the right league.
Differences Between Fast and Slow Pitch Softball- Pitching
One of the most obvious differences is referenced right in the name. One league has fast pitching and the other slower. Slowpitch softballs are thrown with an arc between 6-12 feet. Fast pitch softballs are thrown straight at speeds that can top 60mph!
Fastpitch softball is typically a little more competitive than other variations of the game. Slowpitch softball can be competitive, but there is more of an inclusive and lighthearted feel to it.
There are entire leagues formed for slow pitch softball and they can have a large following of devoted players. Some leagues are co-ed, which is great for families and friends, as they are able to play together on the same team.
Differences Between Fast and Slow Pitch Softball- Players on the Field
In fastpitch softball, there are nine players on the field and utilize the same positions as baseball. This breaks down to one catcher, one pitcher, three outfielders and four infielders. In slowpitch softball, there are ten players playing. The additional position puts an extra player in the outfield
The reason for the extra player in slow pitch softball is that because of the way that the ball is thrown, the ball is much more likely to be a pop fly to the outfield. Adding the additional outfielder makes it harder to find a space to hit the ball where it won’t be caught.
Differences Between Fast and Slow Pitch Softball- Pitching Distance
Distance from the pitcher’s mound to home plate is another difference between fast and slow pitch softball. In fastpitch softball, the distance is 35-43 feet, depending on the ages of the players.
In slow pitch softball, the distance from the mound to the plate is 50 feet. The ball needs to be arched high to make it over the plate, so they add distance to accommodate this. The extra distance also helps to provide the pitcher a little more reaction time if the ball is hit in their direction.
Differences Between Fast and Slow Pitch Softball- Innings
Fastpitch softball games are nine innings in length, while slowpitch are only seven innings in length. The reason for the difference is the speed at which the games are played. Slowpitch softball is usually played at a slower pace, and tend to take a longer time to play each inning
Differences Between Fast and Slow Pitch Softball- Rules
In slowpitch softball bunting and stealing bases are not allowed. Conversely, they are both allowed in fastpitch softball.
Balls in slowpitch have a tendency to be hit extremely hard. Infielders would be too much at risk if they were close enough to field a bunted ball. In fastpitch softball, bunting is used often. A player who is skilled at bunting is very beneficial to the team.
Bases are not allowed to be stolen in slowpitch, because it would be too easy due to the speed that the softballs are thrown. Slowpitch softball players are not allowed to advance to another base until contact has been made with the softball.
During a fastpitch softball game, players are free to steal bases as soon as the ball leaves the pitcher's hand, but they are not allowed to take a lead off the base. Because of this slight delay, it is important to watch the pitcher carefully and leave the base as soon as the ball is fully out of the pitcher’s hand.