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Softball Positions and Numbers Explained

Softball is challenging but highly rewarding for both fans and players. While the simple concept of softball is somewhat easy to understand, it can be challenging to remember the various softball positions and responsibilities, softball position numbers, and even how many positions are in softball. 

Over the next few sections, we will answer your questions about softball positions. 

What Is Softball?

Softball is similar to the game of baseball, using many of the same concepts. 

Using a softball, a bat, and a softball, the batting team tries to hit the ball and score as many runs as possible. Meanwhile, the fielding team is attempting to record three outs while limiting the number of runs scored by the opposing team. 

This duel continues with both sides flipping after three outs are recorded over a set number of innings. The team with the most runs at the end of the game wins.

How Many Positions Are There in Softball?

Softball Positions

There are 9 softball positions across the infield, pitcher’s mound, and within the outfield.

However, in some cases, slow pitch softball may have 10 softball positions in place of the standard nine softball fielding positions.

The nine positions in softball include three outfielders (Left Fielder, Right Fielder, and Center Fielder), four infielders (First Baseman, Second Baseman, Third Baseman, and Shortstop), the catcher, and the pitcher. 

If there are 10 positional softball players, however, you are likely playing slow pitch softball and adding a fourth outfielder to the mix.

Softball Positions, Responsibilities and Locations

All softball positions are critical to their softball teams’ success. Each position has its responsibilities, from the outfield to the infield. 

Infield Positions in Softball

Catcher (C)

The catcher is one of the most important softball infield positions, located behind home plate or at the bottom of the diamond.

The catcher handles the pitch calling to the pitcher, catches/blocks incoming pitches, ensures base runners do not steal bases, and communicates to all softball positions the defensive alignments.

Pitcher (P)

The pitcher handles the bulk of the job duties while being the one person that throws every pitch and touches the softball on each position.

In addition to pitching the softball to the batter, the pitcher also needs to cover first base if the first baseman goes for a baseball.

Other fielding responsibilities includes backing up plays at third base and home in case of overthrow.

First Base (1B)

Possibly one of the most challenging softball positions to play is first base.

This position is responsible for every ball hit in play within the infield. That responsibility is to catch the baseball from the infielder who makes the play while ensuring their foot remains on first base. 

The first baseman plays off of first base when the ball is pitched and possibly in front or back of the bag.

Second Base (2B)

The second baseman position is located between first and second base but not actually on top of second base.

Depending on whether the batter is a left-handed hitter or a right-handed hitter, the second baseman may play closer to second base or to first base.

Other responsibilities of a softball second baseman are to cover second base on balls hit to the left side of the infield when a runner is on first base, as well as cover second on a stolen base if a right-handed hitter is at the plate. 

Third Base (3B)

The third baseman fields a position called the hot corner and sometimes is in the line of fire for some hard-hit balls hit their way. 

The third baseman plays off of third base while playing various depths, including in front of the bag, even with the bag, and behind the bag. 

This position has multiple responsibilities, including fielding bunts or pushing bunts down the third-base side of the infield, covering third base on stolen base attempts of third and even covering third base when a runner is on second base.

Shortstop (SS)

The captain of the infield, the shortstop, plays between third base and second base while shifting either towards one or the other based on whether the batter is left-handed or a right-handed hitter.

The shortstop is also responsible for covering second base when a runner is on first when the ball is hit to either the first or second baseman.

In addition, the shortstop is in charge of covering second base when a steal attempt is on and the batter is left-handed.

Outfield Positions in Softball

Left Field (LF)

The left fielder is responsible for covering the ground between the left field line to the center fielder.

However, the center fielder can call off the left fielder on any ball they believe they have a chance to get to.

In addition, the left fielder will back up throws to third on stolen base attempts of third.

Center Field (CF)

The center fielder controls all outfield positions in softball while having the ability to cover as far to the left field foul line and right field foul line as they feel they can.

In addition, center fielders are the vocal captain of the outfielder, communicating defensive alignments and the number of outs to the other outfielders while also backing up second base on balls thrown to second base on stolen base attempts.

Right Field (RF)

The last outfield position in softball is the right field position. The right fielder covers the ground from the right field foul line to the center fielder.

In addition, right fielders back up first base on plays where the catcher or pitcher throws the softball to the first baseman in case of an overthrown softball.

The 10th Outfield Position

Now the only difference in slow pitch softball with 10 softball positions is a fourth outfielder positioned in the outfield.

In this case, there is no dedicated center fielder, with the outfielders being placed in left field shaded towards the left field foul line, right field shaded towards the right field foul line, and in left center and right center. 

What Are the Different Softball Position Numbers?

With every position in softball, a dedicated number is assigned to the position in a standard nine-position softball team. 

The nine softball positions by number are as follows:

  • #1 – Pitcher
  • #2 – Catcher
  • #3 – First Base
  • #4 – Second Base
  • #5 – Third Base
  • #6 – Shortstop
  • #7 – Left Field
  • #8 – Center Fielder
  • #9 – Right Fielder

In 10-position softball formats, the #10 position is dedicated to the extra fielder or outfielder. In this case, Left Field is #7, Left Center is #8, Right Center is #9, and Right Field is #10. 

Best Positions in Softball

One of the most challenging questions to answer in softball is “what is the best position in softball” or “what is the best position in softball,” since it varies from player to player and team to team. 

For someone who wants the ball in their hand and can determine the game’s outcome with each pitch, the pitcher is the best position in softball. 

However, the center field position may be the best for someone who likes to run, make aggressive fielding plays, and handle the outfield.

The same goes for the catcher position, the only other player guaranteed to be in on every play as they call each pitch, set up their mitt for the pitcher’s location, and are ready to catch or block the softball on each throw.

As you can see, cases can be made for every position if you move from one to another. For example, third base is the hot corner, while first base handles all throws from the infielders on balls hit in play. 

For a softball team to be successful, all infield and outfield positions, the pitcher and catcher need to work together and play as a team. If one player fails to handle their softball positions and responsibilities, the game’s outcome could change quickly.

More reading: Best softball chants & cheers


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