Softball is a variant of baseball and one of the most popular popular sports in the United States . In professional gaming, in contrast to traditionally male-dominated baseball, softball is mostly played by women. In Germany there is only an organized league game for women, while in the popular sports competitions mainly mixed-gender teams compete.
Two teams of nine players each face each other. A team plays in the field ('Defense') and tries to prevent points from the opponents; the other is on the beat ('offense') and can score the points. If the defense team has managed to make three of the opponents "out", a change is made, that is, the defense team now takes the shot and the offense team has to go into the field. A game usually consists of seven such innings .
For a more detailed explanation of the rules and principles of the game, see baseball .
Differences from baseball
Except for the smaller size of the field, a different throwing technique and a few other changes, the game is similar to baseball. These changes are:
- Pitch movement: the thrower must throw the ball with an underhand throw from below the hip, with the wrist no further from the body than the elbow.
- Playing field dimensions: The size of a softball playing field is the size of a baseball field: Side length infield approx. 18 m (baseball: 27 m) Side length outfield approx. 65 m (baseball: 80-100 m) Distance pitcher-batter approx. 13 m (baseball: 18 m).
- Ball size: The softball has a diameter of approx. 11.5 cm (baseball: approx. 7 cm).
- Basestealing / Lead: The runner may only leave the base with the pitch. Base stealing is not allowed in slow pitch softball (see below) .
- Racket shape: The softball rackets are usually a bit thinner and lighter. The shape of the baseball bat is conical, while softball bats become bottle-shaped and thicker after the grip and then continue straight. In addition, no wooden clubs are used, even in the professional field.
- DP: In contrast to the Designated Hitter (DH), a Designated Player (DP) can be used for any player, not just for the pitcher.
- Safety base: There is a so-called safety base at the first base, which offers an extra area for the batter runner to avoid collisions.
- Further small arrangements to adapt baseball as softball to the smaller field.
Slowpitch and Fastpitch
In general, a distinction is made between two game variants:
- Slowpitch softball: This variant is characterized by the additional rule that says that the pitch must fly through a highest point of at least 6 feet (approx. 1.83 m) on its trajectory . This leads to slow pitches and thus to an extremely punchy game. Slowpitch is primarily a popular sport, but is sometimes also practiced competitively.
- Fastpitch softball: With this variant there are no restrictions on the flight path. The result is quick and varied pitching, depending on the skill level. Fastpitch is primarily a competitive sport for women and has been an Olympic for women in Atlanta since 1996 ; however, softball (like baseball) was not played at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Possibility of confusion
The sport of softball bears no resemblance to the tennis-like leisure and beach game better known in Germany as "softball", which is played with plastic tennis rackets and a small, soft, yellow foam ball. The ball must not be confused with the so-called "soft ball" used in kindergarten and school sports , which is the size of a soccer ball and is intended to make it easier for children to use the ball.
The softball described in this article is played with a small leather ball, the inside of which is made of cork and tightly wound thread, and is only slightly larger, but by no means “softer” than a baseball, but actually harder due to the compression. Because it's a little taller, it can't be thrown and hit quite as hard as a baseball. There is also a baseball / softball bat that doesn't look like a tennis racket at all.
Softball in Germany
In the field of fast pitch softball, the DBV organizes a women's league, the Softball Bundesliga (divided into a north and a south group). Softball leagues for women- only teams and, in some cases ( BBSV , BWBSV , SWBSV ) also play for mixed teams, are organized through the regional associations . The highest German division in mixed-sex fastpitch softball is the Mixed Softball Champions League (MSCL). Other leagues below the MSCL, such as B. a German university league ( College Series ), are mostly independent of the associations and organize themselves.
Slowpitch softball is mostly played independently of associations in Germany. Ambitious leisure teams compete in regular tournaments and leagues such as the Rhein-Main-Liga or Rhein-Neckar-Liga. In 2011, official German championships recognized by the DBV took place for the first time , won by BéBé's Kidz, an American national team living in Germany. German championships have been held annually since 2017, with a distinction being made between the disciplines coed (five women and five men) and mixed (at least two women / men). Slowpitch is also gaining in importance regionally. In 2012, a slowpitch tournament was held for the first time at the indoor championships in Baden-Württemberg. The Neuenheimer Feldmeister from Heidelberg secured the title.
Softball in Austria
The highest fast pitch softball league in Austria is the Austrian Softball League with currently 6 teams. There is a second league under construction. In 2009 the Dornbirn Sharx were the first team that did not come from the Netherlands or Italy to win the European Cup. Further successes for softball in Austria were 18th place at the 2016 World Cup and twice 6th (2007 and 2015) and once 7th place (2009) at the European Softball Championships.
Slowpitch softball has recently become more and more important. It is mainly played in leagues organized by clubs; The highlight of the slowpitch season is the Austrian championship 'Coed Slowpitch', which takes place every year in autumn.
Softball in Switzerland
As in Germany, there is also a fastpitch women's league in Switzerland . Since softball cannot be described as a popular sport in Switzerland, there is only one national league A with eight teams (2007). These come mainly from the cities and their catchment areas.
Softball as an Olympic sport
Softball was represented as an Olympic sport for women four times between 1996 and 2008 , but then had to take a break from the 2012 Summer Games in London and the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. On August 4, 2016, the IOC decided to take softball back into the program at the 2020 Summer Games - the same applies to baseball for men.
Softball world championships
The women's softball World Cup has been held since 1965 (most recently the 16th World Cup in Japan in 2018), the men's since 1966 (most recently the 16th World Cup in 2019 in the Czech Republic).
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In 1976 there were three gold medalists with Canada, New Zealand and the USA because the last day of the match was rainy.
- German Baseball and Softball Association V.
- Austrian Baseball Federation
- Mixed Softball League Berlin
- University League Mixed Fastpitch Softball ("College Series")
- Slowpitch softball information portal
- First official German championship in mixed slow pitch in Mainz shows softball at a high level (baseball-softball.de)
- Results 2017 , 2018 , 2019
- Results BaWü Indoor 2012 (falcons-ulm.de)
- ISF VII Women's World Championship ( Memento from December 5, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
- ISF VIII Women's World Championship ( Memento from December 5, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) - "Bronze Medal: Chinese Taipei" is incorrect, as the text shows
- ISF IX Women's World Championship ( Memento from December 5, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
- ISF X Women's World Championship ( Memento from December 5, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
- ISF XI Women's World Championship ( Memento from December 5, 2010 in the Internet Archive )