What is Slo-Pitch Softball?
Slo-Pitch Softball is a game played on a diamond by two (2) teams, each with a minimum of nine (9) players; one team plays offence (hitting), while the other plays defence (fielding). Slo-Pitch is very popular with Adults but is also played at the youth level, often by elementary and secondary school teams.
Slo-Pitch Softball Diamond
The game lasts a total of seven (7) innings, with both teams having the opportunity to play offence and defence in each inning. The team who had the most runs (players who have rounded the Bases and touched Home Plate) at the end of seven (7) innings is the winner.
The team who goes on offence first – commonly known as going ‘Up to Bat’ – is at a perceived disadvantage because they will not be able to end the game on offence. This team is generally known as the ‘visiting’ or ‘away’ team, usually because they are the team who is visiting from another area. The team who goes on defence first is commonly known as the ‘home’ team.
Players go up to bat in the order that the coach placed them before the start of the game (called the ‘Batting Order’). To become the Batter (the hitter), the player enters the ‘Batter’s Box’ and prepares to swing at the ball.
The Pitcher, who is a member of the defensive team, throws the ball underhand in an arch that travels slowly towards Home Plate where the batter must decide if he or she should swing the bat. If the batter swings and misses the ball, it is called a ‘Strike’; if the batter does not swing but the Umpire determines that the ball is in the ‘Strike Zone’, it is called a ‘Strike’; if the batter does not swing at the ball, and the ball is not in the ‘Strike Zone’, it is called a ‘Ball’. If a batter receives three (3) Strikes, he or she is called ‘Out’; if a batter receives four (4) Balls, he or she is ‘Walked’ and is allowed to advance to First Base.
When the batter connects with the ball, one of two things can happen: the ball can be hit forward between the two ‘Foul Lines’ resulting in a ‘Fair Ball’; or the ball can be hit outside the ‘Foul Lines’ resulting in a ‘Foul Ball’. If the batter hits a ‘Fair Ball’, he or she becomes a Base Runner and must run towards First Base. If the Base Runner reaches First Base before the defensive team gets the ball to First Base or catches the ball before it hits the ground, the Base Runner is Safe. The goal of the Base Runner is to advance from Base to Base until they reach Home Plate and score a ‘Run’. When a batter hits a ‘Fair Ball’ over the fences at the back of the Outfield, they have hit a ‘Home Run’ – they are able to run all four (4) bases and score a ‘Run’.
There are a total of nine (9) defensive players in Softball:
- First Base
- Second Base
- Short Stop
- Third Base
- Left Field
- Right Field
- Centre Field
Slo-Pitch Softball Positions
Depending on the level of play, some recreational Slo-Pitch Leagues add a ‘Rover’ position in the outfield. The ‘Rover’ can move around the outfield, but generally plays either between Right Field and Centre Field, or between Left Field and Centre Field depending on the Batter.
The goal of the defence is to prevent Base Runners from safely crossing Home Plate by earning an ‘Out’. An ‘Out’ can be earned by throwing a batter three (3) ‘Strikes’, catching a hit before it touches the ground, getting the ball to the base before the player arrives, or placing a ‘Tag’ on the Base Runner by touching him or her with the ball in the glove. Once the defensive team earns three (3) outs in an inning, they leave the field and become the offensive team.
In Slo-Pitch Softball, the ball is pitched underhand by the pitcher in an arc that travels slowly. The ball must be delivered with an arch between 1.83m (6’) and 3.65m (12’). The pitch can be delivered using pitching styles similar to those in Fast Pitch Softball; however the pitch must be thrown slowly and must have a perceptible arch. A modified game of Slo-Pitch that is commonly used is called ‘Three-Pitch’; the name highlights the rule difference between Three-Pitch and standard Slo-Pitch Softball, namely that the batter is allowed a maximum of three (3) pitches to hit a Fair Ball.