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Now, I’m going to digress. I’ve always wondered about the question posed in the following paragraph; is baseball harder to play than softball? I know that I sucked at both. And I don’t want to upset anybody on either side because we make baseball car magnets and softball car magnets for hundreds of teams every year.
Which is harder to play, softball or baseball? This is one of the most important discussions of our times (right behind climate change, right?). I guess that depends on who you ask. Ask a baseball player, and of course fragile masculine pride will make that baseball player claim that hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sports.
But ask a softball player the same question, and pragmatic feminine sensibility will claim that both are difficult, but softball is harder.
And, speaking as a man, I agree with the softball players.
Let’s focus on hitting the pitched ball, just to highlight the most obvious part of the game. I thought that if I did a little research, I could come up with a definitive answer.
Using college baseball and college softball as our metric, here are a few comparisons:
- Distance from the pitcher’s “mound” is 60.5 feet in baseball and 43 in softball.
- Average speed of pitched ball is about 90mph in baseball and is about 70mph in softball
- Time for ball to reach home plate is about .44 seconds for baseball and about .35 seconds for softball
Here’s something that a lot of casual observers don’t take into account. Since the baseball “mound” is raised, and the pitcher usually throws overhand, baseball pitches must follow a downward trajectory. This is consistent and the theory of a “rising fastball” really doesn’t exist. So, gravity gives baseball hitters the chance to compensate by just dropping their hands during the swing.
In softball, the mound really isn’t a mound at all. It is a flat circle the same height as the batter’s box. Factor in that a softball is pitched underhand and the ball is released from the pitcher’s hand about 2 feet off the ground. Therefore, a softball pitch is almost always rising as it races toward the batter. This means that a softball batter must swing with an uppercut and with less reaction time.
Therefore, I’m going to agree with the softball players and conclude that hitting a softball in a college game is harder than hitting a baseball in a college game.
I’ll just sit back and wait for the hate-mail!