Softball, a variant of baseball and is a popular participant sport. It is most fondly played in the United States. Softball has developed from a game known as indoor baseball. It was first played in Chicago in the year 1887. It became famous in the United States by several names, such as kitten ball, mush ball, diamond ball, indoor–outdoor, and playground ball. There were wide differences in playing rules, size and type of playing equipment, and dimensions of the playing field.
In the year 1923 a rules committee was appointed in order to publish and circulate a standard set of rules for the sport. The committee was later enlarged so as to form the International Joint Rules Committee on Softball, which is said to include representatives of a number of organizations who effectively promote and sponsor softball. The Amateur Softball Association of America, constituted in the year1933, came to be the recognized governing agency for promotion and control of organized national competition. The fundamentals of softball are the identical as those of baseball. Batting and fielding strategy are similar, but softball is played on a much smaller area, and a game is just seven innings long. It is played on a diamond-shaped area with 60-foot (18.3-metre) baselines. The pitching distance for men is approximately 46 feet (14 metres) and for women 43 feet (13.11 metres). Bats that are used to play the sport must be round, not more than 34 inches (86.4 cm) long, and not more than 2.25 inches (5.7 cm) in diameter at the largest part. The official softball is a smooth-seam ball almost 12 inches (30.5 cm) in circumference, with a weight between 6.25 and 7 ounces (177 and 198 grams).In softball the ball is delivered by an underhand motion, on the contrary in baseball the pitch is overhand or sidearm. Base stealing is allowed in both games, but in softball the runner must keep contact with the base unless the pitcher releases the ball on delivery to the batter. Another popular variation of softball is slow-pitch. It must be played with regulation equipment. The major differences from softball (fast-pitch) are as follows: 10 members on a team, the pitching distance for men and for women is around 46 feet, and a pitched ball must be delivered at moderate speed with an arc of at least 3 feet in its flight toward the batter. Speed and height of the pitch are left to the discretion of an umpire, who may eject a pitcher for repeatedly throwing the ball too fast. Base stealing is not permitted in slow-pitch. Another type, popular commonly in Chicago and other mid-western American cities, is played with the help of a ball that is 16 inches (40.64 cm) in circumference on a diamond having base paths equal to 55 feet (16.8 metres) for men and 50 feet long (15.25 metres) for women. The ball is delivered as in slow-pitch, and fielders typically play the game without gloves.
By: Anuja Arora