Fastpitch softball is one of the most popular summer sports around. This sport is mostly played by females from ages five on up through college. It was a recognized summer Olympic sport until it was removed along with baseball after the 2008 Olympic Games. The United States won three gold medals and one silver in the four Olympic Games that had softball. This sport has just as many tournaments as baseball, but many are not as widely known outside of the softball circuit.
This sport is very similar to slow pitch softball, but with some key differences. The teams wear a uniform consisting of pants or shorts and team softball shirts, and cleats, sometimes having athletic quotes on them for inspiration. Other equipment used is softball bats made of metal or composite, softball gloves, and helmets. The teams usually have anywhere from fourteen to eighteen players. There are ten players on the field at any time in the positions pitcher, catcher, first base, second base, shortstop, third base, left field, left center, right center, and right field.
The difference between fastpitch and slow pitch besides the speed and type of pitch is that you can steal bases in fastpitch much as you can in baseball. The rules regarding steals are the same as in baseball. The pitching style is widely known as the “windmill” based on how the pitcher’s arm moves as she throws her pitch. Her throwing arm will make a complete circle before she releases the ball. This type of pitching adds momentum to the ball enabling a much faster underhand release than in slow pitch softball. The size of the bat used in fastpitch is usually much shorter and lighter weight than the bat used in slow pitch because a player must be able to whip the bat around quicker to hit the ball. Wooden bats are not permitted because of injury due to them breaking. The game consists of nine innings, but can be played less due to time constraints or scoring.
Most cities offer summer leagues for girls interested in learning to play softball. They can usually begin playing around the age of six. Almost all universities in the United States have softball teams and they compete in a World Series. Softball is growing in popularity and the professional circuit is becoming much larger with many more teams. It is possible that softball will return to the Olympics in the years ahead. It is a very competitive and fun sport.