By Brian Brown
Slow pitch softball is a popular recreation sport throughout the United States. It is a variation of fast pitch softball, which is played professionally and intercollegiately. The slow pitch variation is not played professionally but is most often played in local and community leagues by youths and adults of varying degrees of ability and experience.
Slow pitch softball is derived from baseball. The objective of both games is to hit a pitched ball and score runs by touching all three bases and home plate. Slow pitch softball is played with a pitcher, catcher, four infielders, three outfielders and a 10th player, called a rover. The game is played between two teams with the offensive team batting and the defensive team in the field.
The main difference between slow pitch softball and its fast pitch counterpart is how the ball is delivered. In fast pitch, the pitcher delivers the ball with much more velocity using a windmill technique. In slow pitch, the ball is often underhanded with little velocity so it travels in an arc toward the plate. In slow pitch softball, a pitch is similar to an eephus pitch in baseball.
There are slow pitch softball leagues throughout the country organized through the American Softball Association. Teams in these league compete in ASA tournaments under ASA rules. However, a large number of teams and leagues are organized by recreation departments and civic and fraternal organizations. These leagues can develop their own rules and compete in local tournaments.
Leagues affiliated with the ASA tend to be for more serious adult players, while local leagues are for those looking to have a little fun and get some exercise.
Softball was invented in Chicago on Thanksgiving in 1887 using a broom handle as a bat and a tied-up boxing glove as a ball. Since then the game was modified, with fast pitch becoming the more competitive version for athletes, while the slow pitch variety morphed into a recreational sport.
Slow pitch softball is often considered a lifestyle sport, like golf or tennis, because people of varying ages and abilities can play and it provides exercise. Compared to some of the other sports, it can be one of the cheapest to play because all you really need is a glove if bats and other equipment are provided by the league or team.