Softball is a fast-pitch sport similar to basketball played with a smaller ball on a rectangular field that contains several base lines of 60 feet, usually with center-field dimensions of 35 feet, a pitching mound ranging from 35 feet to 45 feet away from center field, and a concrete or artificial home park fence that ranges from 200 feet to 300 feet from home plate. The object is for the team to run into home plate using a putter or hammer shot to earn points and the winning team gets to take home the trophy. It’s popular in many schools, colleges, recreational sports programs, and the military. Although it is often considered a female’s sport compared to basketball and baseball, it is becoming more popular among men for sport related activities.
Most softball teams use two outfields; one for the home team and one for the opponent. The pitching and batting cages are available for use during games but only when there are not enough runners on base to allow a run to be made on the field. Except in the case of three outs or fewer in an inning, each team has at least two batters. Softball uses a different system for starting pitchers than do baseball games; in softball the starting pitcher may start the game with one out and have to keep the ball in play until three runners are on base and the team advances to another score.
Unlike baseball, softball does not use a ball that goes as far as a baseball does, but rather it uses a hard rubber ball with a very small tip. Because of this difference in the distance the ball travel, softball players are trained to move toward the ball while playing. Softball has three distinct styles of play: speedball, offense-oriented play, and defense-oriented play. Speedball, sometimes called “time-consuming” softball, involves the quickness and agility of a forward player to move toward the ball and try to steal it. Defense-oriented softball, on the other hand, involves either the outfield or backstop position but relies on quick reflexes and the ability to anticipate the other team’s actions to prevent scores from being made on a hit and run basis.
One of the biggest defensive advantages in softball is the use of timeouts. Timeouts are not used in baseball, but many teams use them in softball to keep the game under control. If a team wants to put one more player on base, they must use a timeout which gives the team three outs and gives them time to put another player on base. Unlike a typical hit and run scenario where the offensive team gets three outs, the defending team must have its three players on base before the other team has three players on base in order to win the game.
Unlike baseball, softball does not use the same numbering system to determine who goes on first and second base. In softball, second and third basers are considered to be “backed” while the number of “outs” refers to the number of runners on first and second baser spots. The Baseball Advanced Batting System, or BASCS, uses a different system for computing a team’s scoring in comparison to the traditional Baseball Rule Book. For instance, unlike in baseball, the team with the least number of runs scored should not be given first base, while the team with the most runs scored should be given first base. The teams scoring the most runs are given first base, while the team with the fewest runs allowed are given third basemen. The runs being scored by a team are scored separately from the runs, the team itself is credited with, so that in situations where a team is scoring more runs than its opponents, it may not be awarded with extra bases.
Unlike baseball, softball requires that a manager use a scouting report that is not solely based on statistics. As in baseball, the team manager has to be able to evaluate his players as well as their performance. Unlike in baseball, the team manager does not have to worry about batting average and slugging percentages as he would have had to do years ago in the field. Today, with the use of computers and data analysis software that are specifically designed for softball leagues, managers can use a variety of tools and information to evaluate not just a player’s skills but the team as a whole.
Because a team only gets three outs per game, it is important that a team plays very conservatively when it comes to offensive plays. Softball teams should not bat past the third base mark on every single play, because they will already be out at that point, unless they score a run. Softball managers also need to spend a lot of time managing their runners, particularly those who are on base. Because the runner is on first base, the manager is trying to figure out what kind of hit he can get on this play because if he hits the ball into the field, he takes the risk of a base hit and an automatic two-base error (unless the softball player makes a nice throw to first base).
One way to manage this situation is to put the runner on first base, with the fear that he could steal the second base or even the third base without ever hitting a home run. Because of this, softball managers should never intentionally put a runner on first base if they believe that he cannot successfully take off at least one base without hitting a home run. When they do this, they risk having their players run as many times as they possibly can on the warning track without ever reaching home base. This is why many coaches start their players on short rest at the beginning of a season to help them avoid this problem.