Why are softballs bigger than baseballs ? For many, softball and baseball are difficult to tell apart. And, at first glance, they indeed do have a lot of similarities. Both sports are played on a 4-base diamond and players score by making runs. In fact, softball originated in the late 19th century as the indoor version of baseball and a way for baseball players to keep playing during winter. However, take a closer look and you’ll notice some significant differences.
The first thing that may catch the eye is that balls used in each sport differ in size, with softballs significantly bigger than those used in baseball.
So, why is a softball bigger than a baseball?
There are several reasons for this, most of which have to do with softball’s indoor origins.
Why Are Softballs Bigger Than Baseballs?
The indoors origins of softball meant that the distance from pitcher to batter was shorter than in baseball.
In baseball, the ball has to travel 60 feet to reach the batter. In softball, this distance is 15-20 feet shorter.
At the same time, even though it flies slower than baseball, softball still reaches a very respectable speed of 70 mph.
All this means that softball hitters have an extremely short reaction time.
It’s about 0.35 seconds which is 0.1 seconds less than in baseball. If softball used a baseball-sized ball, it would be almost impossible to hit.
Especially considering the rising trajectory of pitches.
So, the main reason why a softball is bigger than a baseball is that its size makes it easier to hit and safer for everyone.
In addition, a bigger ball is heavier and travels less which is important considering the dimensions of a softball field.
Why Are Softballs Yellow?
Another notable difference between baseball and softball is the color of the balls. While baseball almost exclusively uses white balls, in softball, they are bright yellow in most cases.
White softballs are usually reserved for recreational play, and, occasionally, slowpitch softball. The reason why the softball is yellow is pretty much the same as why is it so big.
With the smaller field and shorter distance between the pitcher’s mound and home plate, the batter would have a hard time seeing and tracking the ball if it was white.
The bright yellow color makes the ball more visible and makes the batter’s job easier.
Furthermore, the softball infield is made of dirt, not grass. Or, a combination of sand, clay, and silt, to be more precise.
Against that kind of ground, players will have fewer issues spotting the ball when it features bright and fluorescent colors, such as yellow.
What Is A Softball Made Of?
Softballs are made of core and cover which are sewn together by stitches. As I mentioned, they lack the midsection made of yarn that baseballs have.
The center, or the core, is made of a synthetic mixture, most commonly made of polyurethane.
Sometimes, manufacturers use kapok, a mixture of cork and rubber. This center gives the ball its bounciness and flexibility.
The materials used for cover vary and can be either natural or not.
Indoor and outdoor play
Baseball is not ideal for playing indoors. The smaller size and weight of the ball led it to be thrown at higher speeds. It would not be able to keep up with the small distances available indoors, and it can cause a fair amount of breakage and chaos.
Softball, therefore, came into being. This ball was softer, larger, and heavier, lending it to be easy to use inside the home. The size and weight mean it can be thrown with great strength at smaller distances without causing any serious damage.
The rise of softball
Early softballs were not as large as the ones we see today, although they were still larger than the average baseball. The balls were marketed as ‘indoor baseballs’ to the general public at the time.
As time went on, the popularity of softball grew, and at the same time, the rules of the game changed. Today, softball is a distinct game from its predecessor, baseball. In fact, the game is played in major leagues as a distinct game with a larger women-dominated player base.
In the modern-day, the size of the baseball makes sense. The game is played over considerably smaller fields, with a lower distance between the pitcher and the batter. At the same time, there are differences in the equipment, the bats, and even the technical rules.
The heavier and larger softball can be hit with ease over these distances, and the logistics of the game have grown and changed to accommodate this fact.
Baseballs in general are always white and adorned with red laces. These are stitched onto the ball, creating the iconic look of the baseball. In the early years of baseball, the red color on the ball was nowhere to be seen – instead, naturally coloured cow hides were used.
However, over time, the red color became an iconic part of the ball. While there is no specific reason, most people theorize this was to make the incoming ball easier to see. Combined with other rules to avoid distraction from the pitcher’s uniform, this makes the most sense.
While baseballs have a distinct color story, softballs are available in a number of colors. And, different leagues and softball associations have different rules on the kinds of softballs that can be used during their games.
For example, the ASA allows softball players to use balls that can either be white, or yellow. On the other hand, other leagues choose either white or bright yellow. But the question that comes to mind is, where does the distinctive yellow color even come from?
It is probably common to see the bright yellow appearance of a softball to help make it distinctive and easy to see. Since softball is played over smaller distances, this often gives batters far less time to notice the ball, and react accordingly.
A brightly coloured ball on the other hand makes itself far more noticeable, and as a result, a better choice for the fast-paced game of softball.
The term softball implies that the balls in this game are softer, and that is an established fact. The core of the softball is much softer than the baseball, which is why it has a much lower bounce.
In fact, there is a measurement tool that can be used to calculate the amount of ‘bounce’ an object has. This term is called the coefficient of restitution. According to some major baseball leagues, the coefficient of restitution can be as high as 0.55.
Above is information why are softballs bigger than baseballs. Hopefully, through the above content, you have a more detailed understanding of why are softballs bigger than baseballs .Thank you for reading our post.