Fast Pitch vs. Slow Pitch

There are two types of softball, Fast Pitch and Slow Pitch. Just like the difference between softball and baseball, the main difference between fast pitch and slow pitch is the style in which the pitch is thrown. In both types of softball, the pitch is thrown underhand, but other than that, they are quite different.

In Fast Pitch, the pitch is thrown underhand, and travels straight forward with little or no arc. College and professional, elite fast pitchers can throw pitches at dumbfounding speeds up to 70 miles per hour. The fastest fast pitch ever recorded was about 78 miles per hour, thrown by Eddie Feigner. Eddie Feigner is the only pitcher that can flaunt pitches anywhere near that speed. If that same pitch had been thrown from the distance of a major league baseball pitching mound, it would have been going near the incredulous speed of 130 miles per hour by the time it crossed the plate. That is faster than the fastest pitch ever thrown in baseball (which is 104 miles per hour). Stealing is legal in fast pitch, but you are not allowed to lead off or leave the base until the ball leaves the pitchers hand. Most people play with the dropped third strike rule that allows a player to steal first base if the catcher drops the third strike. This rule is very discreet, it often not taken advantage of, or often, people don’t know of the existence of this rule. Fast pitches can be very ornery, they can be extremely difficult to hit.


Slow pitch softball is infamous for being an old person’s sport, but in reality, people of all ages play this version of softball. In Slow Pitch, the pitch is thrown underhand, and travels in an arcing motion. The pitch must subside and hit home plate of the two foot strike plate that extends behind home plate. A slow pitch’s arc must be at least six feet high, or it will be called flat, which is an automatic ball, regardless of whether or not the pitch hits the plate. The arc also has to be lower than twelve feet, or it will also be a strike. Because of the slow pitches, a game of slow pitch softball generally moves a lot slower than a game of fast pitch. To help speed up the game, sometimes a batter will start their at bat with one ball and one strike already counted against them. Stealing is illicit in slow pitch softball, and since the catcher doesn’t catch the pitches, it is tacit that the dropped third strike rule doesn’t apply. In slow pitch, there is a commit line nine feet out along the third base line from home plate. Once a runner crosses the commit line, they are not allowed to turn around and elude the out by running back to third base, making every play at home a force play. In slow pitch, for safety reasons, the runner must tag the strike plate instead of the home plate, and the catcher can only stand on home plate to make the play. If the catcher is blocking the strike plate, then the runner can be automatically called safe, or if the runner causes a collision by tagging home plate, they can be called out.



The Arc of a Slow Pitch                                                                    Slow Pitch Strike Plate

Both types of softball are fun to play, and which type is better depends completely on opinion. Fast pitch is the more intense version of softball. Fast pitch is generally played by kids and younger men and women.  Slow pitch is a more player friendly type of softball. Slow pitch is very popular amongst middle aged and older men and women. Slow pitch has many more safety regulations than fast pitch, which is why it is more common among older people. Fast pitches are generally easier to hit because the ball is coming straight at you, versus a slow pitch that drops from above. No matter what type of softball you play, you will have lots of fun and get a great team experience.


Softball Terms of the Week

Term: Meaning:
Commit Line A line 9 feet away from home plate in the third base line that makes every play at home plate a force play.
Strike Plate A two foot mat that is laid behind home plate that marks the strike zone.
Dropped Third Strike A rule that allows a player to steal first base if the catcher drops the third strike.
Pickle When a runner attempts to advance to a base on a steal or when the play is not a force, and two fielders are trying to tag the runner out. They do this by throwing the ball back and forth over the runners head as they try to make it safely to either the next base or the base they came from.


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