Division I NCAA college athletics is the highest level of athletic competition in college. In May and June, the best “DI” collegiate softball teams compete to play in the World Series, starting on May 28.
Softball is a game that is played with a bat and ball between two teams. The field is made up of two parts; the infield and the outfield. In the infield, four bases form a diamond, with the pitcher’s mound in the middle. The outfield is often made up of grass. Much like in its relative’s game, baseball, the defensive team stands on the field while the offensive team bats. In order to score, a player must hit the ball with the bat and run around the four bases. The batter starts at home plate and passes through first, second, and third until he comes back to home. In a typical game, after each team has had seven at bats, the team with the most runs wins. Three of the currently biggest differences softball has with baseball are; the ball is bigger, pitchers underhand the ball, and it is mostly a women’s sport.
The first recorded softball game was played with men at a boat club in 1887 in Chicago, Illinois. They played with a broom and a rolled up glove. The next week one of the members of the club, George Hancock, invented a ball and small bat for the game. Thought of as a way for baseball players to train during the winter, the game was named “Indoor baseball.” When people started playing the game outside, it was called “Indoor-Outdoor baseball.” The name, “Softball,” was coined by the YMCA in 1926 because of the “softer” ball. Because the ball was not as hard as a regular baseball, fielders did not wear gloves. Although there were many different ways to play the game, softball became more uniformly played when the Joint Rules committee on Softball created rules in 1934. In the 1940s, a change in the game occurred; fast pitch softball became more commonly played than soft pitch. Fast pitch softball is played with a faster pitch, longer distance from the pitcher’s mound to home, and gloves.
Women’s softball became recently competitive with the first softball appearance in the Women’s World Championships in 1965. Originally, pitchers were encouraged to throw the ball softly because of the widespread belief that a hard throw could break the batter’s bones. As time went on, the belief in women’s fragility faded and women became more adept to the fast pitches. In 1996, fast pitch softball was added as an official sport in the women’s summer Olympics. Currently, women’s fast pitch is played more competitively at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels while slow-pitched softball is played more as a social activity by both genders.
1. Did softball originate as an all-women’s sport?
2. How many innings are in a typical softball game?
3. How does a team score?
4. What year was the first year softball was played in the Olympics?
5. What day does the NCAA Women’s College World Series begin?
Jessica De Gree
Jessica teaches English as a second language in Spain and plays basketball professionally there. She recently received her Bachelor's degree from Hillsdale College, one of the nation's top Liberal Arts schools in MI. At Hillsdale, she played basketball and studied English and Spanish. Some of her hobbies include reading, writing, painting, surfing, and playing the piano.