Softball is a sport similar to basketball played on a rectangular field that usually has maximum length measurements of 60 feet, a pitching mound which range from thirty-three to forty feet away from right field, and a protective home run fence ranging from 300 to 400 feet from right field. Teams play each game on a baseball diamond. The object of the game is for the team to score as many runs as possible, with the team scoring more runs than the other team. The winning team becomes the “Championship Series winner.” Softball is played in two round robin leagues, the National Softball Association (NSAA) and the Continental Ladies Professional Softball Association (Cleveland Women’s Professional Softball Association).
One regulation in softball that must be strictly followed is that a team must bat throughout the entire nine innings. Batting only takes place in the top half of the inning, at which point an “out” call is made by the umpire. After the tenth inning, only three players can bat at one time. Any player who does not bat in those three frames of play forfeits the game. No other player may hit during the same inning.
A softball pitching machine is utilized in the late parts of the game when a team needs a base hit to win the game. The object of the game is for the pitcher to throw the ball to his own base without allowing it to drop down or touched by any opposing player, except for a runner who is attempting to steal the bag. The offensive team goes into the field with two runners carrying on base. Once the pitching game ends, the pitching coach retrieves his pitching machine and cycles it through several motions before placing it back on the field.
The rules governing softball are designed to create excitement and challenge for the players. In a typical game, a team consists of eleven players. When a team completes thirteen or more outs, a “run” is scored. Runs are scored on each individual player for each inning; the run being declared when a team reaches the next stage of play after being put out. Runs are scored three times, at-bat times, inning times, and at-bat times, regardless of whether the team scores on the winning team’s grounders or runners.
Softball rules require that a softball player must first touch the ball with her bare hand before she is allowed to swing at the ball. A wild pitch results in the batter being sent to the dirt without even touching the ball. After touching the ball, a player may make an attempt to throw the ball while touching her face with her hands, but only if her hands are empty. After touching the ball with her face, she must throw the ball without ever leaving her position on the playing field. A thrown ball that lands outside of the home plate is called a foul ball and is subject to being boxed out.
Softball uses four bases: the front of the house, center field, back yard, and the foul line. Softball teams use different strategies when it comes to playing on these four bases. On a field where the home team has the lead, the offensive team plays on offense while the defensive team defends their four bases. On a softball field where there is still a lead after two outs, the defensive team may play on defense while the offensive team takes their place on the field. The outcome of this play is determined by how many runs are scored in an allotted time period.
The ball used in slow pitch softball depends upon the weather conditions where the game is played, but most commonly it is a baseball-sized ball. Some players wear gloves with smaller holes on the palm to aid them in catching the balls with their naked hands. This helps to avoid unnecessary running from the ball when it is thrown to them.
Fast pitch softball is played during the winter months when the weather is cool and the ball needs to be thrown very fast to keep the runners from stealing bases. Like the slow-pitch softball, the player must quickly grab the bat and throw the ball to a player who is not behind the ball. If runners cannot be put on first base because of cold temperatures, the teams switch roles and one team plays at first base and the other at second base. This switch allows for an inexperienced player to learn to catch a baseball and eventually become an experienced player with more experience at the hot corner spot. There are a few downsides to playing fast pitch softball; namely, it is very difficult to hit a ball that goes 500 feet or more without it breaking up. This is also a problem when the ball is hit directly by a bat that is not fitted for size.