Fast 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).
The game lasts a total of seven (7) innings (or established time limit), 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 (or established time limit) 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 bat the ball.
The Pitcher, who is a member of the defensive team, throws the ball in an underhand motion towards Home Plate where the batter must decide if they 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:
Fast Pitch Positions
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 Fast Pitch, the ball is pitched underhand by the pitcher in a straight or flat line, with as much speed as possible. Fast Pitch rules allow for use of the ‘Windmill’ pitching style, characterized by the pitcher extending his or her hand around the body backwards and releasing the ball at hip level at maximum speeds. Fast Pitch Pitchers can also use another pitching style where the pitcher’s arm completes only the bottom half or three-quarters of the windmill motion; this pitching style is often used, where the pitchers' arms are not yet capable of throwing a full windmill pitch.