Baseball and softball are similar games in that they entail hitting a ball and getting runners to advance around the bases. But the people who play these games are different from one another. While boys play baseball, girls often play softball.
While there are cases where girls can play in little league baseball games with boys, you rarely see them do anything in baseball. Girls tend to stick with softball, and there are many reasons for this.
These reasons for this preference come mainly from history, although the way softball is played could also be a factor. But while the two sports are similar, their differences are part of why girls play softball more often.
The First Thing To Note
An essential consideration to make before understanding why girls play softball is that it wasn’t designed as a women-specific sport. Softball was always intended to be open to men and women alike.
Softball was built for smaller indoor spaces. The game was designed to work on a small field with a ball that doesn’t travel as fast. The concept of softball being created specifically for women is a myth.
Title IX Was a Factor
One aspect of why girls play softball more entails how they are often led towards it because of a perceived lack of opportunities for women to play baseball. The passage of Title IX in 1972 is one point to note.
Title IX states that men’s and women’s college sports teams should receive equal funding. Title IX also says that for male-only sports, there can be an equivalent for women and vice versa. In this situation, softball is the only female-only sport that qualifies.
This point has made softball more associated with women. There’s no option for women to play baseball at the collegiate level. Therefore, high schools and other secondary schools won’t offer baseball programs for girls. They only provide softball teams for them to join.
Women have still been involved in baseball, with some amateur female-only teams popping up. There’s even a professional women’s baseball league in Japan. But they’re more likely to appear in softball.
The Field Is Smaller
A softball field is smaller than a traditional baseball field, making it easier for women to play on it. The bases on a softball field are sixty feet apart, which is thirty feet less than a baseball diamond. The fences on a softball field are about fifty feet closer to home plate on average.
The small field comes from how softball was originally developed as an indoor version of baseball. It was created to allow people to play baseball indoors during the winter season.
Women often choose softball over baseball because they find it easier to navigate the field. Since it is a smaller space, it is easier for them to play the ball without struggling to get to specific places on the field.
The Size of the Ball Is a Factor
Softball uses a 12-inch ball instead of a 9-inch one, like what you’d see in baseball. Some softball games can use 16-inch balls, but those are used in recreational games in most cases.
The more massive size of the softball was developed to create a body that wouldn’t travel as far, making it more useful for the smaller softball field size. The design is more accessible for women to handle, as it doesn’t require them to travel too far to reach a batted ball.