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05/29/2022

Softballs: Everything You Need To Know

Complete Guide To Softballs

For a lot of first-time softball players it might seem like a softball is a universal piece of equipment that can be used interchangeably between fastpitch or slow pitch softball. However, as you dive deeper into the sports, you’ll quickly learn that not all softballs are created equal. Each league regulates their softballs to a specific set of measurements. These lists of criteria can vary from size, density, weight, and even color. So learning about the ball that your league uses will allow you to better understand the right softball bat to swing during your games. Let’s take a look at all the information you need to know about softballs.

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Compression and COR

Learning the compression and COR specs of the softball used in your slow pitch league will only serve to benefit you. 

The compression of a softball refers to the amount of force needed to compound the ball a quarter of an inch. Typically, the more force needed to compress the ball (aka higher compression) means that the ball you are using will be harder by nature, potentially causing more trampoline effect on a softball bat’s barrel and adding more distance in your hits.

The COR (or Coefficient Of Restitution) of a softball indicates how much energy is retained by the ball after it deflects off of a solid, immovable object (like a wall). Another way to think of it is that COR measures the “bounciness” of a ball. Generally speaking, balls with higher COR ratings will have a lower compression rating and cannot compress a softball bat barrel very well. Thus, high COR balls won’t allow for the furthest hit balls (think about the USA slow pitch 52 COR/300 Compression balls). One will most often find that the COR and compression of a softball will work inversely to one another.

SLOW PITCH TIP: Remember that aside from the batter, there are three factors in play when hitting a softball:

  1. The ball’s COR
  2. The ball’s compression
  3. The bat being used.

Each will play a factor in the ball distance generated by your swing. There are many different slow pitch softballs out there, but oftentimes, your league will specify all three of these previously listed factors so you’ll want to make sure you follow the proper guidelines.

FASTPITCH TIP: Typically, fastpitch softballs will have compressions that are a little higher than what is found on most slow pitch softballs (and usually lower CORs). Overall, one could usually say that the fastpitch softballs usually fly off the bat a little faster than a slow pitch softball.

Sizes

Did you know that fastpitch and slow pitch softballs feature different sized diameters? That’s right, fastpitch softballs are regulated to be 11” in size. Slow pitch softballs are regulated to be 12” in size. The size may not be noticeable for all players, but it is something of note for former fastpitch players looking to join an all-women’s or coed slow pitch softball league.

Youth softball players will typically begin playing fastpitch with a 10 inch “soft” softball. This allows younger players to feel comfortable fielding and throwing the ball around the diamond. The 10” size accommodates smaller hands while the softer core reduces the possibility of injury. For reference, a baseball is approximately 9” in diameter.

What is the Core of a Softball Made of?

A softball’s core is created from a mixture of polyurethane. The combination of cork and rubber creates a stiff, yet squishable ball. Because of this, most softball players prefer to swing composite softball bats to ensure the lifespan of their bats.

 

Difference Between Fastpitch and Slow Pitch Softballs

Fastpitch and Slow Pitch softballs have a few differences that are important to point out. 

  • Slow Pitch softballs are bigger in size (12 inches) compared to fastpitch softballs (11 inches)
  • Fastpitch softballs are designed to be hit harder and fly further than slow pitch softballs
  • All fastpitch softballs now sport a neon yellow color, while slow pitch softballs can be either neon yellow or white
  • Certain slow pitch leagues (Windy City or Clincher softballs) can be as big as 16 inches in size

Softball vs Baseball Comparison

As we briefly discussed earlier, a softball is noticeably larger and heavier than a baseball. While a baseball is regulated to be between 9” and 9 1/4” in diameter and weigh between 5 and 5.25 ounces, a standard softball has a diameter of 12” and weighs between 6.25 and 7 ounces. That means you are talking about a three inch size difference (circumferentially) and a one to two ounce weight difference.

However, did you know that softball bats are not permitted to exceed 2 ¼” in barrel diameter? Meanwhile, USSSA baseball bats are allowed to be as big as 2 ¾” in their barrel diameters. This means that baseball bats are bigger in size, trying to hit a smaller object. On the inverse, fastpitch softball bats are smaller in size, trying to hit a larger object. 

That is our breakdown of everything you need to know about softballs. If you have any questions or are interested in learning more about the right bat to swing for the league you are in, please contact our team of Bat Experts today. You can give them a call at 1-866-321-2287, shoot them an email at experts@justbats.com, or LIVE CHAT with them on our website. We’re JustBats and we’re with you from Click to Hit!

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