What is Fastpitch Softball

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Girls Fastpitch Softball

 

Most people have at least an idea of what softball is when they hear the word.  They may even have some experience playing it as a kid or on a co-ed team as an adult.  Let’s make sure we’re all working from the same starting place though.  The International Softball Federation (ISF) which is the international governing body for softball identifies fastpitch softball (as opposed to slowpitch or modified fastpitch) based on the type of windup and pitch used by the pitcher not necessarily the pitch speed.  Fastpitch uses a windmill type windup where the ball starts at the pitcher’s hip, is moved in a circular motion for one full rotation in a windmill style and then released at the hip with a snap of the hand.

In fastpitch, much like baseball, the batter may bunt and steal bases but unlike baseball may not lead off from the base before the ball is released from the pitcher’s hand.  The most common color for fastpitch softballs are the very bright “optic” yellow color.  The size of the softball varies in size based on age and level of the players from 10” to 12”.

Girls Softball Pitch Speeds

Fastpitch balls are thrown in speeds up to 75 mph for women with most youth softball pitch speeds ranging from 37-57 mph depending on the age of the pitcher.  Here are the average and maximum pitch speeds broken down by age group.  For any given age group there will be pitcher’s who can throw a faster pitch but this is on average.

Age Division

Average Pitch Speed

Top Pitching Speeds

10U

37-41

43-46

12U

44-47

50-53
(mid –upper 50’s rare)

14U

46-49

52-55

16U

50-53

54-60
(mid-upper 60’s rare)

 

Rules and Regulations

There are several different national associations for softball and each has their own rules and regulations.  Each organized league in the U.S. will likely be affiliated with one of the governing bodies and follow their specific rules.  One of the most common is the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) established in 1933.  ASA owns USA Softball which includes the US Men’s, Women’s, Junior Boys and Junior Girls National Teams.  They are the association which sponsors the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City each year.  Other governing bodies that may be affiliated with your league are the National Softball Association (NSA), the Independent Softball Association (ISA), the United States Fastpitch Association (USFA) and the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA). You can read more about the rules for each governing body here.

There are a maximum of 7 innings in a softball game with most youth games having 3 to 5 innings.  In youth softball there will also usually be a maximum time limit for games. There may also be run restrictions where each team may only score a maximum number of runs per inning for the first few innings.  This helps to ensure both teams will be able to have a fair turn at bat especially at the lower youth levels where the girls’ skills are still developing.

That is just a very basic overview of the game.  There are countless hours that go into getting a team or a player ready to play a whole softball season.  From deciding on a team name and team colors, to the team tryouts or “play date”, to selecting and running softball training drills, running practices, giving the girls hitting tips and helping them with the mental aspects of the game.  Softball may be a simple game but it’s not an easy one.

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