Similar to baseball, softball is played between two teams on a large field which is composed of a dirt and grass infield, containing the diamond plus the running areas, and a grass outfield. There are four bases on the infield – including the home plate – which are arranged 45 to 65 feet apart in a square configuration. The object of the game is to score more runs than the other team by batting a ball – thrown by the pitcher – into play and running around the bases, touching each one in succession. The ball is of light material and typically 12 inches in circumference.
Softball features in The World Games 2013; check the event calendar for details about when it is scheduled.
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What Wikipedia says about softball's history ...
The earliest known softball game was played in Chicago, USA, on Thanksgiving Day 1887. It took place at the Farragut Boat Club after the Yale and Harvard football game.When the score was announced and bets were settled, a Yale alumnus threw a boxing glove at a Harvard supporter. The other person grabbed a stick and swung at it. George Hancock called out "Play ball!" and the game began, with the boxing glove tightened into a ball, a broom handle serving as a bat. This first contest ended with a score of 41:40.
George Hancock is credited as the game's inventor for his development of a 17" ball and an undersized bat in the next week. The Farragut Club soon set rules for the game, which spread quickly to outsiders. Envisioned as a way for baseball players to maintain their skills during the winter, the sport was called "Indoor Baseball".Under the name of "Indoor-Outdoor", the game moved outside in the next year, and the first rules were published in 1889.
The name "softball" dates back to 1926. The name was coined by Walter Hakanson of the YCMA at a meeting of the National Recreation Congress.
Olympic softball ...
In 1996, women's fast-pitch softball made its first appearance at the Atlanta Olympic Games. The United States took the first gold medal, beating China in the gold medal game 3:1.
An Olympic sport until the Beijing 2008 Olympics, softball was dropped from the program of the London 2012 Games by a tied vote of the IOC Olympic Session in Singapore, 52 to 52, with one member abstaining. Only a simple majority of 53 votes would have been required to keep softball in the Olympics. In the review process of the Olympic Sports Program for the Games in 2016, softball lost out to golf and rugby sevens.
Soft-pitch versus fast-pitch versus baseball ...
Fast-pitch is different from the looping, relaxed pitch used in recreational softball leagues. Fast-pitch players must hit a ball traveling at about 70mph. While this is slower than baseball, it is certainly much faster than the meandering slow-pitch game. And since the pitcher's mound and the home plate are much closer than in baseball, 40 feet versus 60 feet, the player must react to the pitch just as quickly.
The playing diamond is smaller than baseball's, with only 60 feet between bases. Baseball diamonds have 90 feet between each base. This makes for a faster, more active game than baseball.