Each team must have a minimum number of nine players active for each game, with a maximum of 10 players active for each team. In total for each softball game there are either 18, 19, or 20 players. This minimum number of 9 is enforced to ensure that each team has enough players for each position. The 10th slot allows for a substitution player in case of injury or fatigue.
There are 9 positions in softball, these can be broken into the three different categories: the outfield, the infield, and the pitcher & catcher. These positions are played by the team currently in the field, meaning they are not batting. The team at bat, only has one position: batter meaning they are batting against the opposing team's pitcher.
The left fielder is part of the outfield and responsible for catching fly balls, line drives, and fielding ground balls that make it past the infield. The left fielder is positioned in the outfield of the field on the left side of the field closest to third base. Outfielders must have a strong arm in order to make long throws back into the infield.
The center field is also part of the outfield and shares the same responsibilities as left field: catching fly balls, line drives, and ground balls in the outfield. The center fielder is positioned behind second base in the middle of the outfield between left and right field. The center fielder must have a strong arm as well in order to throw balls from the outfield into the infield quickly.
The right fielder is the final position in the outfield and shares the same responsibilities as the other two previous outfield positions. The right fielder is positioned behind first base in the outfield, on the right side of the field. Not only is it important that outfielders have strong arms, but having ball tracking skills is vitally important. Being able to track softball in the air helps outfielders field the ball much more efficiently.
The third baseman is part of the infield and is responsible for covering third base. They are positioned a couple feet off the bag towards second base, which allows the fielder to cover a wider range of infield. The third baseman must field any balls hit in their area, catch throws from teammates throwing out an opposing player at third. The third baseman must be able to make a throw to the catcher when an opposing player is running to home plate. They also must have a strong arm in order to make the long throw to first base before the opposing runner does.
The shortstop is part of the infield and plays a very important role. Tasked with covering the gap between second and third base, the shortstop is positioned in the middle between the two bases. The shortstop must cover second base along with the second baseman, the two positions split responsibilities depending on where the ball is hit in the field. They are often involved in turning double plays with the second baseman. The shortstop tends to have the most responsibilities and tends to be the team's most versatile player.
The second baseman is also a part of the infield, and is positioned in between first and second base. The main responsibilities of the second baseman include: fielding ground balls hit in their area, catch pop ups, and cover second base along with the shortstop, again depending on where the ball is hit in the infield. The second baseman is often right handed in order to improve their efficiency.
The first baseman is the final position part of the core infield, and is positioned a couple feet off the first base bag towards second base. The primary responsibility over the first baseman is to cover first base, when a ground ball is hit in the infield the majority of the time it's being thrown to first base. The first baseman must also field any ground balls or pop ups hit in their area. First basemen are known for their long reach and extension in order to get an out as shown in the picture below.
The pitcher throws the softball from the center of the diamond known as the pitcher's mound to the catcher. The pitcher's goal is to throw balls within the strike zone of the batter (imaginary zone from the batter's shoulders to their knees). The pitcher must use an underarm motion to the throw the ball; after throwing the ball the pitcher then becomes a fielder. They are responsible for catching and fielding ground balls and pop ups within their area and covering first base when the first basemen cannot.
The catcher is positioned directly behind home plate and is responsible for catching each pitch the pitcher makes. The catcher plays in a squatting stance to provide the pitcher with a target within the batter's strike zone. The catcher must also cover home plate when an opposing team's runner is attempting to score, in addition fielding pop flys in foul ball territory and throwing out the runner's attempting to steal a base. The catcher must be effective at communicating by signalling with the pitcher as to the specific pitch and letting fielders know how many strikes and outs they are.
The batter is the player facing the pitcher attempting to hit the softball into the field and away from the opposing team's players. If the player makes contact with the ball and hits into play they must immediately drop the bat and begin running towards first base. The goal of the batter is to hit the ball, get on base, advance to each base, and finally reach home plate and score a run for their team. The fielding team is trying to prevent any runs from scoring.
The best position to play in softball is usually the shortstop position given that the shortstop is usually the team's most versatile and quickest player. That position tends to have the most responsibilities and most amount of action per game. The pitcher is another vitally important position has the pitcher can control a game, by limiting the opposing team's offense with hard to hit pitches can have a great impact on a game. The position is also very engaging as one is involved in every pitch, however pitchers need rest and cannot pitch every game.