In addition to the 2 main versions of softball, fastpitch and slowpitch, many other variations of the game have been developed to meet the demands of the diverse range of participants of all skill levels, age and experience.
OzPitch is a mixed gender recreational softball program for anybody who enjoys the social aspects of a team sport, wants to have fun and who would like to increase their physical activity. It can be played State, Association or Club level by players of all ages and abilities.
OzPitch teams are made up of 9 players per team with a maximum of 4 male players per team. While competition may be structured to suit local requirements, the following works well:
- A short season of 6 to 8 weeks
- A competition that runs for just 3 weeks stretching over several days or nights
- A maximum of 6 teams per competition
- Each team plays 2 games per night
- Games of 1 hour of 5 innings duration
Indoor softball is a fast, fun game suitable for single-sex or mixed teams of all ages. Indoor softball follows slowpitch rules with some variations, depending on the capacity of the venue. There are many versions of the game based on factors such as the number of pitches faced and batting time-limits.
Special Olympics Softball, which is governed by the Special Olympics Sports Rules adapted from the ISF rules for slowpitch. Teams are divided according to the compiled scores of each team member’s Skills Assessment Tests (SAT) scores. The test assesses throwing, batting, fielding and base running. Coaches are required to submit a SAT score for team members prior to the competition. A team score is calculated by adding up the top 12 players’ scores and dividing the total by 12. While teams are initially placed in divisions on the basis of this SAT team score, a round of classification games are played to finalise the process.
Variations of softball for children
Softball is a popular children’s team sport as both boys and girls can enjoy the competitive nature of the game, while not facing the physical challenges of traditional mixed contact sports. The most popular variations of softball played by young people in Australia are:
- Blastball is a great entry-level game for children as young as 4 years old. It is popular among schools and community programs and is usually played by teams of 5 players or less. The defensive (fielding) players take an infield or outfield position between cones. The Blastball is placed on the batting tee for the batter to hit the ball between the cones and then run to the Blastbase. The batter scores a run if they reach the Blastbase before the defensive player either catches the ball (an automatic out) or fields it and yells “Blast”. If the ball is caught or fielded and “Blast” is yelled before the runner gets to the Blastbase, then the runner is retired. Everyone on a team bats before the teams swap over.
- Diamond Ball is designed for children under 7. Both teams bat and field twice and the game lasts approximately 40 minutes. Players rotate fielding positions and coaches assist players on field. Diamond Ball is all about everyone getting a go, learning positions and having fun.
- Tee Ball is for children under 9 and, unlike Diamond Ball, Tee Ball introduces batting helmets, Softball bats and gloves and the incrediball (or low impact ball). One point is given for every base touched while batting, and one point given for each out when fielding. The focus remains on enjoyment and learning.
- Rookie Ball aims to provide a transitional medium where players can progress from Tee Ball to pitch Softball. The main difference is that either a machine or the coach pitches the ball to the batter instead of another player. This provides more hitting opportunities and also gives the young batter the opportunity to become accustomed to the pitched ball. Strikes are likely to be thrown at a speed more consistent with the requirements of the age group. This keeps the game moving at a fast pace. Generally a game of Rookie Ball lasts 75 minutes.
- Mod Ball is designed for children aged 10-12 and provides an opportunity to refine the skills learned in Tee Ball. It challenges the batter to hit a moving ball pitched to them from a distance of 30-35 feet. The batting team retires when 3 outs are recorded, when the 7th run is scored or when 12 batters have completed their turn at batting, whichever comes first. A regulation Mod ball game lasts 1 hour.
- Fast Track is suitable for players 12 years and under. Standard fastpitch rules apply, with an official umpire behind the catcher. There are no walks and after 3 balls pitched by the pitcher, the coach of the batting team will then pitch to the batter. This variation is designed to encourage hitting, fielding, throwing and base running. One point is given to each base runner who reaches the home plate.
- 3-Pitch is for children aged 12 years and under. It introduces the batter to hitting a ball pitched by the coach. The catcher is required to wear full protective gear. Each batter gets 3 pitches to try and hit and, if unsuccessful, the tee is brought out for a hit. This is to encourage, hitting, fielding, throwing and base running. One point is awarded for each base touched when batting and one point for each out when fielding.