Perceptions or Facts
“You play ball like a girl!” This used to be one of the worst insults of all time. It is quite a compliment. Softball seemed as only the girl version of baseball. The girls who couldn’t compete with “the big guys,” played softball. That underhand pitch, the size of the field, how much bigger the ball is easy. In reality it is harder. Recent studies shows how much harder hitting a softball is than hitting an overhand pitch of a baseball. The angle, speed, distance, and spin are just a few aspects of the windmill pitch’s difficulty. In reality, hitting a 95 mph overhand baseball pitch from 60 feet away is more difficult than hitting a 65 mph, windmill softball pitch from 43 feet away, as iSport.com tells us.
We all know that softball is simply the “girl version” of baseball. The field is smaller, the ball is bigger, and the uniforms are quite different. Most believe that these differences would make playing the game much easier. Girls are underestimated pretty often, but when it comes to softball, there is much empowerment. When baseball and softball get compared, most would always go into saying how much baseball is harder. The field is big, the ball is small and white, and the pitching is faster. All these descriptions are true but doesn’t make the sport any harder than softball.
Some sports can be very similar or different to each other, like softball and baseball or tennis and badminton. Sports like tennis and badminton are also a pair of sports that are modified towards each other. They both have the same concept, but many differences. The shape of the court, using rackets, hand/eye coordination, having a player on each side of the net, etc. are all aspects of the two sports that are similar. Softball and baseball both have the same general rules, like needing to get three outs and using a ball to pitch to a batter. They both have a first, second, and third base that runners run to so they can score. Though these basic and simple rules are a few aspects what these sports have in common, their differences are increased. For a badminton play to succeed in tennis would require extra skill practice and new coordinations to be formed. New skills would still be needed when a baseball hitter goes up against a softball pitcher and succeeds. The athletes, no matter how hight their skill level, are not prepared to face a kind of sport so similar, yet so different at the same time.
The sports, softball or baseball, have are countless aspects that can make one sport harder than the other. Just because the softball field is smaller does not make it any easier. In fact, distance and size make more difficulties to hit than a baseball. In baseball, the standard base distance is 90 feet from base to base, but in softball they are 60 feet apart. The fence in softball is usually about 220 feet or so. A baseball field fence is about 400 feet from home plate. The pitching distance from home plate is also different. They softball mound is only 43 feet from home, the baseball mound is 60 feet. The baseball mound is also higher because of the extra dirt under the mound, where-as in softball, it is flat.
The significance of these differences is how it changes difficulty. The softball rise ball, and the batter’s natural movement of dropping the bat when swinging. The batter’s effectiveness of hitting the ball productively go down tremendously. In softball, not only does the pitch rise, but it is also pitched at distance of only 43 feet. That is only where the mound is placed. After the big leap off the mound and the intimidating windmill, the pitcher ends up about 38 feet away from the batter. The reaction time the batter has to see the ball and to hit it short.
Baseball’s pitching has only a few difficulties, but the main one is the size of their ball. Because of its small shape, the ball has a better chance of movement. The pitcher can hold the ball a certain way and can make the ball do some crazy movements while approaching the strike zone. The batter must make sure the ball won’t be out of the strike zone by the time it gets there.
It has been researched by an online myth buster channel, that the reaction time to hit a baseball is longer than softball by .045 milliseconds. If the baseball batter is pitching from 60 feet with the speed of 95 mph, the batter will have just about .395 milliseconds to react and hit the ball. A softball pitcher who pitches from 43 feet at with speed of 70 mph, only allows the hitter .350 milliseconds to react. Numbers like these can indicate that softball hitters will have a more difficult time hitting the ball.
Hitting a ball coming at the strike zone at 65 mph causes the batter to see the ball so quickly that they need to have amazing hand-eye coordination. The ciliary muscles in the eye takes time to contract and relax to see an object far, to close. During a baseball or softball game, this has to happen fast, and this takes time and finding the ball in the air takes time too. During both kind of pitching, the ball is blocked by the pitchers body at some point therefor the batter can’t see the ball until it is already in the air. This makes the eye muscles have to work even faster to see the ball and see it come closer.
To make this process quicker, the batter has to focus on a point in space that they assume the ball will come from. It can be easier to look at the pitcher’s release point. In baseball, this might be easier because the release point is next to their head, but in softball, the release point is by their hip.
The different aspects in each sport is focused on the view point of the player. A softball player might think that hitting a 90 mph, dropping pitch is harder, and vise versa for the boys. Let’s say that a badminton player tries to play tennis. They would believe that tennis is more difficult because of the bigger court and the size of the racket. A tennis player would think that badminton is difficult because of its higher net and the birdie.
Some viewers say that softball and baseball can’t be measured based off their difficulty levels. The two sports are too different for this to be stated. In the game of baseball and softball, pitchers dominate. The game is won bases off of who can make the other team’s hitters, hit less. Professional softball pitcher Jennie Finch is one who dominates every time she steps in the pitching circle. By nature, people love a good challenge, so professional baseball hitters like to face the all-powerful and mighty Ms. Finch. Professional hitter Albert Pujols accepted the challenge and stepped up to the plate. Because of Pujols not ever seeing a ball rise before, he couldn’t touch it. This got people thinking, if college players hit Finch before, then why can’t professional ball players touch her?
This doesn’t mean that the pros aren’t has good as they think they are because they truly are very good, but this just means they don’t practice hitting softball pitching as much as baseball pitching. This also could mean softball batters are pretty good in the fact that they can even touch this pitching. The movement of a softball pitch is completely different compared to a baseball pitch. Professional baseball hitters are not used to the angle. If they were, they would then be able to touch the ball more accurately. Due to the fact that it was Pujols first time ever to see this pitching, it was difficult for him. With more and more practice, there is a chance that he could perform better.
However, Finch is the best of the best, there is most likely a softball pitcher that Pujols can touch that is not Jennie. Another scenario was when Finch participated in the Pepsi All-Star Game in 2004; Finch faced more MLB hitters. “No sooner did Finch arrive at the mound the defensive players behind her sat down,” said Scott Tinley in his article, Why MLB hitters can’t hit Jennie Finch and the science behind reaction time. Though their assumptions are humorous, this states that Finch would go to strike out each MLB batter of the inning.
The batters reaction time to the ball has not been practiced enough to face a softball pitcher. Practicing this will allow a better timed swing to the ball. When athletes practice timing, they are making sure they can execute skills “without thinking.” By practicing how to come in contact with a pitcher’s rise ball, batters then will expect it at bat. Now that this a practiced, maybe even mastered, batters can then focus on whether the ball will be inside or outside.
This can prove that MLB hitters can be expected to not hit Finch on a first try, but being the professional athletes they are, they can practice and try to hit her the second time. Most hitters don’t see a second at-bat with Finch because they never want to go through that humiliation ever again. Therefore, trying to prove that a softball is harder to hit than a baseball is not reasonable. Studies can’t be accurate because the only way to prove this is if there were an athlete who practiced hitting both for an equal amount of time.
Baseball players can’t hit a softball pitch effectively because they have never seen that kind of pitching before. This is equivalent to a professional badminton player stepping onto a tennis court. Though these sports are very similar with the same kind of big idea, they are very different. With tennis, the net is low to the ground and the court is bigger. In badminton, the net is high and the court in shorter. Badminton players must focus on the speed and spin of the birdie. Tennis focuses on power and timing of the ball.
Let’s say a badminton player has played tennis for the same amount of time, we could see what sport that player has more success with. The player can give a better measure for what sport they have more difficulties in. The same concept applies to softball and baseball. Very little to no baseball players also play fast-pitch softball. If there were any who did, there is no analysis on them. Researchers have also done no recorded scenario where a softball hitter batted against a baseball pitcher. Overall, stating that one sport is harder than the other is too broad of a statement.
Some researches say that softball hitters hit less than baseball hitters because the kind of pitching is more difficult to hit. The top three softball hitters in America, as of 2015, all have batting averages over .500, while the top three baseball hitters hit just over .420. If hitting a softball is harder, then these numbers do not add up to support that statement. Because of the smaller softball field, the infield and bases are both shorter distance. The shorter distance will cause many more infield hits than baseball hitters can produce. There are aspects in both sports that make each have many different difficulties. The sports are just too different to judge if one is harder than the other.
Sandlot 2 is the biggest softball verses baseball challenge of all time. In the movie, the Sandlot boys arrive at their usual playing spot, and to their surprise they witness three girls on their dirt. Dealing with intruders is hard enough when people are on any kind of property that has clearly been taken, but girls just make it worse. As the ball players begin to make a compromise, both boys and girls make some sort of bet. The winner takes the sandlot; loser leaves. Softball pitcher, Hayley Goodfairer, challenges baseball player, David Durgano, saying she can strike out him out with three pitches. Accepting the challenge, David faces an underhand softball windmill for the first time. Foul ball after foul ball, both began to get tired and weaker. In the end they call it a draw. During draws, there is no winner and no loser. The movie symbolizes that neither sport is harder or easier than the other.
The most critical part of comparing two sports are the view-points. When saying a softball hitter has a tougher time than a baseball hitter, the judgements are based from the viewers skill levels and their indication of the sport. The softball pitch can seem that there are more difficulties because of the completely different kind of pitching. The angle of the pitch is more difficult to hit because of angle, distance, and speed. Overall, the conclusion comes from within the view of the athlete.
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CK”s Baseball 4U, B. C. (2014, February 27). What’s the Difference between Baseball and Softball? Retrieved October 30, 2016.
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Mann, B. A. (2011, September 30). Baseball vs. Softball. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
Sullivan, S. (2016, February 05). Baseball vs Softball, Which is Harder? – Baseball Fam. Retrieved December 05, 2016
The Difference Between Baseball & Softball | iSport.com. (n.d.). Retrieved October 30, 2016
Tinley, S. (2014, July 24). Why MLB hitters can’t hit Jennie Finch and science behind reaction time. Retrieved November 06, 2016.