Softball despite its name is far from a soft sport — for starters the ball isn’t even soft. It’s as hard as a baseball, slightly larger; a softball is 12 inches (30.4cm) in circumference and a baseball is 9 inches (22.8cm), and comes at batters at speeds sometimes in excess of 70mph (over 110kph). Considering the pitcher stands far closer than a baseball pitcher, it is fair to say that softball players have just about as much time to react as their baseball counterparts.
Softball fields are much smaller than baseball fields, making softball a faster-paced game. Players have to be quick in the outfield and be able to run between bases, and those who excel in the infield need lightning fast reflexes to play successfully.
Origins of softball
Softball found its origins from baseball, but also indirectly its foundations also came from boxing. For the sport was first born in Chicago on Thanksgiving Day, 1887 when a boxing glove was thrown in a gymnasium at someone who decided to hit it with a pole!
George Hancock, usually considered the inventor of softball, tied the boxing glove so that it resembled a ball and chalked out a small diamond on the floor of the gym to create what was a smaller version of baseball. Hancock later wrote rules for his new sport of ‘indoor baseball’ which quickly caught on in popularity, eventually moving to an outdoor sport.
The name softball emerged in the 1920s and the sport later spread internationally, aided by members the US military playing it whilst on overseas service. An International Softball Federation (ISF) was formed in 1952 when its first meeting set the goal of one day achieving Olympic status.
Softball is an exceptionally popular participation sport in the United States and is played in over a hundred countries around the world. The game finally made its bow at the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996 when it was played only by women. Softball received a blow when the International Olympic Committee voted to drop it as Olympic sport for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Incidentally they dropped baseball too.