Which softball is best?
It can be frustrating to show up to a softball diamond on game day only to discover that no one brought a ball. Even if you’re not the team captain, taking the initiative and showing up prepared is always a good idea.
Stocking up on softballs is crucial since they go through wear and tear, and you’ll probably lose a few from time to time. If you’re looking for a high-quality ball, the Rawlings Dream Seam Fastpitch Softball is the top choice.
What to know before you buy a softball
Softball vs. baseball
Softball and baseball are similar, but one key distinction is that a different ball is used for each game. Softballs are much larger than baseballs, measuring 11 to 14 inches and weighing 6 to 7 ounces, and unlike baseballs, which are typically white, softballs often have a yellow cover. They have a solid core and a durable exterior like baseballs, but they’re a bit softer.
Slow-pitch vs. fast-pitch
Slow-pitch softball is a variation of the original fast-pitch game where pitchers lob the ball toward the batter instead of throwing fast underhand pitches. Generally, fast-pitch softballs travel faster and higher when hit, but most manufacturers label softballs so players can tell which game they’re suitable for.
Buying in bulk
Unlike sports like basketball and soccer, there’s a good chance you’ll go through several softballs in a season, whether they get worn out or lost. Buying softballs one at a time is impractical, so it’s best to look for a bundle so you and your teammates can keep the drills going if you lose one.
What to look for in a quality softball
Coefficient of restitution and compression rating
A ball’s COR rating indicates how much it bounces. A ball with a higher rating travels farther and faster, but it’s a good idea to check your league’s rules before buying one, as some have a specific COR requirement for official game balls. However, a lower COR rating is preferable if you’re a beginner looking for a reliable training ball.
A high compression rating indicates that a ball has a hard core and will travel farther when hit off a bat. A high-compression ball is usually the standard for fast-pitch softball, but for slow-pitch, your league may require a ball with less compression.
A softball consists of three components: the core, cover and seams.
- The core is typically made of polyurethane, cork or rubber and plays a crucial role in a ball’s COR rating.
- The cover is made of genuine or synthetic leather. Natural leather is more durable and provides a superior grip, but synthetic leather balls are cheaper.
- The seams have red or blue stitching and, depending on the ball, can be raised or flat. Raised seams provide better grip and more spin on throws, making them preferred by most fast-pitch pitchers.
Standard softballs usually come in 11-inch, 12-inch or 14-inch circumference sizes.
- 11-inch softballs: These are standard in youth slow-pitch and some adult coed leagues.
- 12-inch softballs: These are used in adult recreational leagues, but some youth associations use them.
- 14-inch softballs: These are suitable for recreational use, such as casual games and training. However, some leagues use a 14-inch ball.
How much you can expect to spend on a quality softball
You can get a cheap training ball for $4-$8. However, if you want more durable game-certified balls, you can expect to spend $7-$12.
When should I replace a softball?
A. If you notice any nicks in the cover or the seams are breaking or coming apart, it’s best to replace a softball.
Why are most softballs yellow while almost all baseballs are white?
A. Softball fields are smaller than baseball fields, and because players have less time to react, a yellow ball is easier to see and track. Also, it’s safer to use a yellow ball in low-light environments.
Is it OK to use a softball to play baseball?
A. No. A baseball bat is designed to hit smaller balls, and softball gloves are too big to field baseballs safely and efficiently.
What’s the best softball to buy?
What to know: This ball offers elite performance and is ideal for Amateur Softball Association and high school players.
What you’ll love: This 12-inch ball is made of high-density cork and has a high-grade raised seam construction for improved grip during pitches and throws. It has a durable leather cover, a 375 mph compression rating and a 0.47 COR rating.
What you should consider: It’s not as durable as one might expect for the price.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top softball for the money
What you need to know: This ball has a design and build that makes it great for casual games and training players of all skill levels.
What you’ll love: This 12-inch ball has a polyurethane core with a durable synthetic leather cover for maximum durability and performance. The contrast stitching offers a superior grip during throws, and the highlighter yellow color makes it easier to track fly balls in low-light conditions.
What you should consider: It’s more suitable for indoor play than outdoor, and it’s softer than a standard softball.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This 11-inch ball is perfect for college-level fast-pitch players looking to improve their skills.
What you’ll love: It has yellow ProTac synthetic leather for increased visibility in low-light environments and offers a level 10 reduced injury factor for safety.
What you should consider: The cover is a bit thin, so you should keep this softball away from dogs who might chew it up.
Where to buy: Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods
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Kevin Luna writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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