Softball Position Roles and Responsibilities
How many players are in a softball game?
Each team must have a minimum number of nine players active for each game, with a maximum of ten players playing on each team. There are 18, 19, or 20 players on the roster for each softball game. This minimum number of nine is enforced to ensure that each team has enough players to fill each position. The 10th slot allows for a substitution player in case of injury or fatigue.
How many positions are there in softball?
There are nine positions in softball; these can be broken into four different categories: the outfield, the infield, pitcher, and catcher. These positions are played by the team currently on the field, meaning they are playing defense and not batting. The team at-bat only has one position: batter, meaning they are batting against the opposing team’s pitcher.
List of Softball Positions
- Left Field
- Center Field
- Right Field
- Third Baseman
- Second Baseman
- First Baseman
Outfielders are responsible for fielding balls hit past the infielders. They must have strong arms and are typically also some of the better hitters on the team.
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 on the left side. The left fielder is positioned in the outfield on the left side of the field, closest to third base. Left fielders must be fast to track down balls and have a strong arm to make long throws back into the infield. They also are responsible for backing up the center fielder on balls hit to center field and the third baseman on hits towards third base.
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. However, the center fielder is typically responsible for covering more ground than the left fielder and is usually faster. 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. They are also responsible for backing up both the left and right fielders when balls are hit into left or right field.
The right fielder 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. They are in charge of backing up center fielders on balls hit to center field and the first baseman on hits and throws towards third base.
Infielders are responsible for fielding ground balls, line drives, and pop-ups hit that are near their position on the field. They typically have quick reflexes, as they are the closest positions to home plate, except for the pitcher and catcher.
The third baseman is part of the infield and is responsible for covering third base. They are positioned a couple of feet off the bag towards second base, which allows the fielder to cover a wider range of the infield. The third baseman must field any balls hit in their area and 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 reaches the base.
The shortstop is part of the infield and plays a very important role. This position is tasked with covering the gap between second and third base, and is positioned in the middle between the two bases. The shortstop must cover second base along with the second baseman since 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, catching pop-ups, and covering 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 few feet off the first base bag in between first and second base. The primary responsibility of the first baseman is to cover first base because when a ground ball is hit in the infield, it is typically 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 outs.
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 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 to fielding pop flies in foul ball territory and throwing out the runner's attempt to steal a base. The catcher must be effective at communicating, as they use signals with the pitcher to decide the specific pitch that should be thrown. They also communicate with the outfielders to let them know how many strikes and outs there are.
The batter is technically the only offensive position in softball since only one person can bat at a time. Every player on the roster, except sometimes the pitcher, takes turns batting when their team is on offense. If the pitcher chooses not to bat, the team’s extra player will serve as a designated hitter in the pitcher’s place.
Batters face the opposing pitcher and attempt to hit the ball into the field and away from the opposing team’s players. They also can be walked if a pitcher throws four balls, which will grant them first base. If the player makes contact with the ball and hits it into play, they must immediately drop the bat and begin running toward first base. The batter’s goal is to hit the ball, get on base, advance to each base, and finally reach home plate and score a run for their team. Meanwhile, the whole fielding team is trying to prevent any runs from scoring. The best batters are powerful hitters that are skilled at timing their swings, making hand-eye coordination and proper swinging form critical.
What are the positions in softball?
- Left Field, LF
- Center Field, CF
- Right Field, RF
- Third Basemen, 3B
- Shortstop, SS
- Second Basemen, 2B
- First Basemen, 1B
- Catcher, C
- Pitcher, P
What is the best position to play in softball?
The best position to play in softball is up to personal preference. Usually, the shortstop position is highly regarded, given that the shortstop is usually the team’s most versatile and quickest player. That position tends to have the most responsibilities and get the most action in every game. The pitcher is another vitally important position as the pitcher can control a game by limiting the opposing team’s offense with hard-to-hit pitches, which 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.