There are many differences between baseball and softball. From the size of the ball to the dimensions on the field to the size of the bat in the batter’s box, these games look incredibly similar but are built very differently.
One of the largest of these differences is the bat that the offensive player takes with them into the batter’s box each inning.
Here, we will break down how the two types of bats differ across all of the different versions of play from youth sports to slow pitch to fastpitch.
The Length Is Different
Believe it or not, the average baseball bat is in fact smaller than the average softball bat by roughly one inch.
The average baseball bat is roughly 33 inches from knob to end, while the average softball bat is a full inch longer at 34 inches.
A longer bat in softball provides for better plate protection as batters have a shorter time to determine whether or not the pitch will be a strike based on the fact that the pitcher is on the same level as they are and closer to home plate.
On the baseball side, a slightly smaller and heavier bat is easier to get through the strike zone and make solid contact. On another interesting note, on the youth level, there is no difference.
The average size in both little league baseball and softball is a 30-inch bat, and this is likely because children are dealing with the same issues and are roughly as strong as one another despite the gender and sport differences.
The Weight Is Different
The weight of bats varies greatly from fastpitch softball, to slow pitch or beer league softball all the way through fast pitch baseball that has seen a lot of recreation growth in recent years.
When it comes to slow-pitch adult leagues, the average bat weight is roughly 28 ounces. Many older softball slow pitch bats are much heavier than that because you have to generate all of the power and distance on a pitch through your own strength, bat speed, and clean contact.
The fastpitch bats are often very much lighter than that. The reason for this is for the batter to be able to get the bat off their shoulder and through the strike zone much faster, especially at the recreational level where reflexes aren’t as crisp as they are on the professional level.
The batter has a lot less reaction time in softball as the pitcher stands closer and is coming from the same plane as the batter.
When it comes to adult fast pitch baseball the bats are much smaller and that has to do with league rules that dictate the bats cannot exceed a weight and length number of -3.
The Barrels Are Different
When it comes to differences in barrels, you can tell visibly that a baseball bat is thicker in the barrel than its softball counterpart.
For baseball in college and high school, the bat is roughly 2-5/8ths inches thick on average, whereas on the college level you will find that the barrel of their bats is roughly 2-1/4ths inch thick on average.
The reason for the difference in the thickness of the barrels is driven by the way the bat and its “sweet spot” make contact with the ball.
It also has to do with the diameter of a baseball being much smaller than that of its softball counterpart. A thicker barrel gives you the best opportunity to make cleaner contact and gives the batter a better chance against the pitcher.
While the thinner and quicker softball bat gives hitters a better chance by being lightweight and easier to put the ball in play.
The Handles Are Different
While it may appear at first glance that softball and baseball bats have similar handles, a baseball bat actually has a longer handle with a thicker handle as well.
The reason for this is because of the way the bat contacts the ball and the differences in the size and weight of the softball and baseball. It also has to do with men’s hands being larger and that a thicker gripping location will feel more comfortable to a male batter.
Everything about the softball bat, and especially the fastpitch softball bat is about getting the bat off of your shoulder as quickly and effortlessly as possible and each section of the bat is very dedicated to that goal.