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Does a softball look like a baseball?

At first glance, a softball and a baseball may appear quite similar. They are both spherical balls used for playing sports. However, there are some key differences that distinguish softballs from baseballs.


One of the most noticeable differences between softballs and baseballs is the size. Softballs are significantly larger than baseballs. The official size for a softball is 11 to 12 inches in circumference. Baseball sizes vary depending on the league, but a standard MLB baseball has a circumference of just 9-9.25 inches.

Ball Type Official Size
Softball 11-12 inches circumference
Baseball 9-9.25 inches circumference

As you can see, even the smallest allowable size for a softball is much larger than a baseball. This size difference affects the style of play, allowing for bigger hits and more exciting plays in softball.


In addition to being larger in size, softballs are also heavier than baseballs. The exact weight can vary slightly based on the league and level of play. Here are some general weight comparisons:

Ball Type Typical Weight
Softball 6.25-7.0 oz
Baseball 5.0-5.25 oz

The extra weight of a softball allows it to travel farther when hit, but also requires more power when pitching and throwing.


Softballs and baseballs are made of similar materials, but have some variations in construction:

  • Softballs have a solid rubber or polyurethane core wound with wool or cotton yarn and wrapped in leather or synthetic leather. The inside is smooth.
  • Baseballs have a solid cork or rubber center wound with yarn and covered in leather. The yarn wrapping creates raised seams on the outside of the ball.

The smooth inside of a softball allows for a bigger sweet spot when hitting. The raised seams on a baseball contribute to the break or curve when pitching.

Play Style

The differences in size, weight, and composition between softballs and baseballs contribute to differences in playing style:

  • Softball uses underhand pitching from 43 feet away and has a larger ball, allowing batters to hit for more power.
  • Baseball uses overhand pitching from 60 feet, 6 inches away, requiring batters to generate their own power.
  • The raised seams on a baseball allow pitchers to throw breaking balls and other tricky pitches.
  • Softball players use bigger gloves to manage the larger ball.

In general, softball emphasizes offense with big hits, while baseball focuses more on pitching and defense. The strategies required are distinctly different between the two sports.


Softball and baseball are played competitively and recreationally in different organized leagues:

Softball Baseball
ASA/USA Softball Major League Baseball (MLB)
NCAA Softball National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Baseball
National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) Minor League Baseball (MiLB)

At higher levels of competition, baseball and softball have separate governing organizations and leagues for play. However, some casual recreational leagues may allow both types of balls in play.


Softball and baseball developed as variations of similar early bat and ball games:

  • Early forms of baseball had been played in the U.S. since the late 1700s.
  • Softball was invented in 1887 as an indoor version of baseball played on a smaller field.
  • Over time, baseball became standardized for professional play. Softball evolved as a popular recreational sport.

Despite some overlap, softball has developed as a separate sport from baseball with established guidelines and competitive play.


While softballs and baseballs may look somewhat similar at first glance, they differ in size, weight, construction, and play style. Softball emphasizes offense with its larger ball and closer pitching distance. Baseball focuses more on pitching and defense with its smaller ball and longer pitching distance. The rules and competitive leagues have also evolved differently for each sport. So although they share common ancestry as bat and ball games, softball and baseball have distinct identities and cultures today.