Slow Pitch Softball

Slow pitch can be played either as a coed game or as a single biological gender game by men or women.

Whichever is played, a slow pitch team has 10 players on the field, with four outfielders instead of three. All other positions are the same. There are no fixed rules about where those four outfielders are positioned.

In slow pitch, the ball is delivered underhand with one foot remaining in contact with the pitching plate until the ball is released. A legal pitch has to describe an arc reaching a minimum of six feet (1.82 metres) and a maximum of 12 feet (3.65 metres). This arc ensures that the pitched ball will travel slowly. The judgment about whether a pitch conforms to these parameters is made by the home plate umpire.

As in any other form of softball or baseball, the rulebook strike zone applies: in this case the ball must cross some part of the plate between the batter’s front shoulder and back knee. But since the ball is coming downwards through the strike zone in slow pitch, it takes a while to learn how to judge balls and strikes.

In slow pitch, any pitch that hits any portion of the plate as it descends to the ground is a ball, even if it passes through the strike zone. A foul ball hit when a batter already has two strikes is a third strike and the batter is out.

Bunting is not allowed, nor is base stealing. A baserunner must remain in contact with the base until the pitched ball is hit or crosses home plate.

Accordingly, there can be no such thing as a wild pitch or a passed ball on which runners can advance. A pitched ball is, in effect, a dead ball until it is hit.

Slow Pitch Pitching: Basic Principles

Many people without much experience of slow pitch softball think that the only responsibility of pitchers is to throw strikes and then hope that his or her fielders can catch some of the balls that will be hit.

It’s certainly true that almost all batters in slow pitch will hit the ball and many of them will hit it hard. Strikeouts are a rare occurrence, and almost always happen when a ball is hit foul with two strikes rather than on a called or swinging strikeout.

Despite all that, a good pitcher is still able to have an influence in limiting the offence of the other team, by making batters swing at pitches they don’t necessarily want to hit and by getting batters to hit ground balls or fly balls rather than line drives.

The key to being able to do this is accuracy (the ability to throw pitches consistently to exact locations) and variety (using different spins and movement and changes of pace).

Clearly, batters in slow pitch have a lot more time to make adjustments to different pitches. But through accuracy and variety, a pitcher can still keep hitters off balance, ensuring that balls are not hit as hard or as far as batters intend.