Little League Baseball is not as closely related to softball as one might think. While both are played with bats and balls, the comparison stops there.
While I know there will be more discoveries in the coming weeks, this 4 season veteran softball mom is already finding big differences in the sports lets start with the equipment differences since those are the easiest to see from an outsiders point of view.
Girls hit off different sized softballs as their age increases and as far as I know the size of the baseballs don’t change, although the softness may change as the age groups get older. From what I’ve seen of both sports the smaller baseballs fly farther when hit, but the bounce of a softball around the field makes it a challenging game of ping pong that girls have caught onto and excelled in.
Going back into softball and baseball history, it used to be common for a girl to wear a visor and a baseball hat for boys in the field, now the faces of the players look even more different. Girls wear a face mask and boys don’t. Most people say this face-mask thing is because parents don’t want their daughters faces broken. If you want a great example of this try googling the 2019 College Softball World Series when a catcher accidentally threw a line drive ball at the face of her own pitcher due to a miscommunication. If I hadn’t already made my daughter wear a mask before, it definitely sealed the deal after watching the girl drop to the ground like a sack of bricks. What shocks me now is that even as a baseball batter the baseball helmets are wide open to the possibility of a pitched ball to the face.
In addition to the visor, hat, face mask thing, uniforms are different. Boys wear shirts with sleeves and girls go sleeveless even in the rainy weather that Northern California had today! Talk about tough girls! We rock when it comes to the cold.
My latest aha moment happened this morning when I saw a pitching machine out for a 5th grade age game. Did you know that some age groups in little league hit off a pitching machine or at least they did for this opening tournament? I’ve seen coach pitch before, but I can say with great confidence that this would never happen in a softball tournament.
Despite the equipment differences, both sports are fueled by the traditions of the parents being passed onto the kids. The amount of parents and family and friends out to support the 28 kids playing today was amazing and catching up with old and new friends never gets tiring when you’re at the ballpark!