Softball vs Baseball: what's the difference between baseball and softball at Tokyo 2020 Olympics - rules explained

The sports were last seen at the Olympics in 2008 where Japan and South Korea took home golds

Softball and Baseball have made a return to the Olympics after being absent from the Games since Beijing 2008.

The sports share several similarities, with both using bats, mitts and a diamond pitch, however baseball pre-dates softball by more than a century.

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Here are the differences between softball and baseball.

Softball during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

How the ball is pitched

The most obvious difference between the two sports is how the pitcher throws the ball toward the batter.

In softball pitchers throw the ball from a circle in the centre of the diamond using an underhand throw.

Pitchers can throw the ball at over 60mph, with the fastest record pitch recorded at 77mph. The ball also covers a shorter distance of just 43 feet between pitcher and batter.

In baseball the pitcher stands on a mound in the center of the diamond and fires off the ball using an overhand throw. The ball travels much faster than a softball reaching speeds of over 90mph.

The distance between the mound and home plate is also longer in baseball, measuring 60 feet and 6 inches.

Difference in the size of the field

Another difference between the two sports is the size of the field. At the Olympics the distance between each base is 90 feet in baseball and just 60 feet in softball.

The furthest distance on the outfield in softball is 220 feet away from the home plate. In baseball it is about 400 feet.

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The size of the ball

A regulation softball is significantly larger than a regulation baseball.

A softball measures between 11.88 and 12.13 inches in circumference and weighs between 6.25 and 7.00 ounces.

A baseball measures between 9.00 and 9.25 inches in circumference and weighs between 5.00 and 5.25 ounces.

The size of the bats

Batters in softball use a slightly shorter bat compared to Baseball, with the bat measuring at around 34 inches.

A baseball bat can measure up to 42 inches long.

The number of innings

The number of innings in each sport differs.

In baseball there are nine innings. In the event of a tie at the end of the ninth the game continues into extra innings until one team has gained a numerical advantage at the end of the inning.

Softball games go for seven innings with extra innings if there is a tie at the end of the seventh. For the Tokyo Games, the additional softball innings will be played under the tie-breaker rule, where innings begin with a runner on second base.