Softball and baseball are two of the many joys of summer. Some folks can’t wait to play, some can’t wait to watch, and some prefer to pretend they’re playing in fantasy leagues. This third category doesn’t need a real field, but folks who want to experience sports in real life can read on.
What’s the difference, anyway?
Before we go on, let’s make sure we all know the difference between softball and baseball. The sports are similar – hitting a ball with a bat, running around bases – but there are a few crucial differences:
- Ball size: Softballs are bigger than baseballs – about 12 inches in circumference versus about 9 inches. Guess what? They’re slightly softer, too. Young kids’ teams may use even smaller and softer softballs than the standard.
- Pitching mounds: Softball pitchers are level with the batters. Baseball pitchers stand on a mound.
- Pitching motion: Softball pitchers throw underhand. Baseball allows overhand or sidearm pitches.
- Base paths: Bases are closer together in softball than in baseball.
All Hail the World Baseball Softball Confederation
Don’t think sports are all fun and games. Baseball and softball have a governing body: The World Baseball Softball Confederation, headquartered in the Olympic Capital city of Lausanne, Switzerland. Not only does it govern international competitions, it sets the standards for field size.
We know, when you were a kid you and your friends batted some sort of substandard ball on a vacant lot. Maybe you even used a broomstick instead of a bat. But times have changed, so let’s look at the regulations.
Baseball Field Dimensions
The major and minor leagues use similar standard field dimensions. The infield is a 90-foot square. There must be at least 250 feet between home plate and the nearest fence or other obstruction. The pitcher’s mound is ten inches higher than home plate. Home plate should be 127 feet, 3 3 /8 inches from second base.
Okay, we’ll spare you further details, since 127 feet, 3 3/8 inches was painful enough to read. With all due respect, oh great World Baseball Softball Confederation, what about the most important part of a baseball field? The fences?
For fence height recommendations, we turn to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, whose priorities are more in line with ours. The NCAA recommends a “solid and secure” outfield fence for college baseball fields. The preferred height is eight feet tall, but six will do in a pinch. The NCAA discourages nylon fences and wooden fences built with 1×4 inch boards as they can be unsafe.
Softball Field Dimensions
What if you’re playing with that bigger, softer ball? The distance between bases is 60 feet. The pitching distance is usually 46 feet. Little League softball players use the same size fields.
Again, we turn to the NCAA for its advice on softball fences. The NCAA suggests a 6-foot home-run fence. It also recommends that the dugout’s field side is protected by fencing or netting not less than six feet from the dugout floor, except for designated exits and entrances.
Home batting cages
No matter how much you love bat sports, you may not have space at home for a regulation field. Don’t worry, you can still practice your hitting with a home batting cage.
The ideal batting cage is 70 feet long, 14 feet wide and 12 feet high. The taller and wider the batting tunnel, the better, as you can track the ball flight. In a shorter, smaller cage, the netting will knock the ball down quickly.
Yes, we’re talking about a good chunk of yard. If your player is under six feet tall and you’re pressed for space, a cage as small as 45’ by 11’ by 11’ is adequate for short toss drills.
Who’s ready for softball?
If you’re inspired to add a softball field or batting cage to your property, we’d love to help. Buzz has plenty of experience with sports fencing. Call us today. We can turn your baseball fantasy into an actual field.