When George Hancock shouted, "Let's play ball," on Thanksgiving Day 1887 in Chicago, the game of softball was born. The game has since been popularized during the 20th century and has continued to be a common competition sport for girls and women through the new millennium. Pitching is one of the core aspects of softball---as it differs from baseball in several ways. Understanding the key components of pitching is essential to little league players.
The first thing that people notice about little league softball is that like the players, the field is smaller than those designed for adult players. Softball fields only measure 60 feet between the bases---which is the regulation distance between home plate and the pitcher's mound in professional baseball---therefore the distance between the pitcher's mound and home plate in little league softball is also decreased. The pitcher's mound should be a regulation 40 feet, allowing players to perform more competitively.
One of the main differences between baseball and softball is the elevation of the pitcher's mound. In softball there is no elevation, whereas in baseball an elevation of 10 inches is required in the center of the mound. Softball ensures that the mound is not raised due to the underhanded pitching motion.
The pitching motion in softball is the other key difference that any spectator will immediately notice. As with adult softball, little league softball requires players to pitch the ball underhanded toward the plate. At no point in time is the player allowed to pitch overhanded. Players are also not allowed to perform any deceptive movements, nor are they allowed to have both their hand and the ball in their glove at the same time while pitching---or while winding into their pitching motion.
Just as in professional softball, the pitcher is required to pitch over the plate in an attempt to get the batter to swing and miss or to not swing at a pitch that is considered within the "strike zone." Both will result in a strike for the batter. Three strikes within the strike zone will result in the batter being called out. Pitches outside of the strike zone---that are not swung at by the batter---result in a ball. If the pitcher throws four balls, then the batter is allowed to go to first base.
- Photo Credit softball image by Steve Brase from Fotolia.com
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