80 Softball Terms You Should Know!

softball terms

Learning softball is like learning a brand new language. There are many different terms you’ll hear from other parents, around the field, watching the game, and many other spots. To help you we’ve put together this large softball terms list, which includes 80 of the more common ones we can think of. Perhaps some are know, but we hope you can pick up a thing or two. Let’s get started!

  1. At Bat – When a batter sees a sequence of pitches and either gets a hit, gets out, or reaches on error. If the batter walks, is hit by the pitcher, or hits a sacrifice, an “at bat” is not recorded by the official scorer.
  2. Athletic stance – Ready position on defense or offense.
  3. Backstop – The screen, padding, or short wall behind home plate.
  4. Bag – A base.
  5. Ball – A pitch that is not in the strike zone and the batter refrains from swinging at it. Batters get four of them before a walk is given.
  6. Base – One of four corners on the diamond that the base runners must touch before they score a run. First, second, and third are always called bases. Home is often called a plate.
  7. Base coach – A coach who is directing batters and hitters from first and third base.
  8. Base hit – When the batter hits the ball and gets to first base or farther without defense making any errors.
  9. Base on balls – The batter gets first base for free after the pitcher throws four balls outside of the strike zone.
  10. Base path – The lane where baserunners run between the bases.
  11. Base runner – The offensive player who is on base.
  12. Bases loaded – When base runners are on first, second, and third all at the same time.
  13. Bat speed – The velocity that the batter swings the bat.
  14. Batter – The player who is standing at home plate in a batter’s box ready to hit a pitch.
  15. Batter’s Box – The spaces on either side of home plate where batters stand when pitches are thrown. The boxes measure 1m by 1.2m, or 3 ft by 7 ft. They are six inches away from home plate.
  16. Batting average – A statistic that records the number of hits divided by the number of at-bats.
  17. Bunt – The hitter doesn’t swing at a pitch, instead uses the bat to tap the ball into play. In softball, there are different types of bunts and plays that use them. Many left-handed batters will drag bunt or slap bunt so they can hit the ball as they are moving toward the pitcher. They must stay in the batter’s box while bunting.
  18. Catcher – Officially, position #2 in the scorer’s book. The defensive position behind home plate. Receives and calls pitches.
  19. Change-up – A slower, off-speed pitch that is meant to throw off the batter’s rhythm.
  20. Coach’s box – The base coaches have a space along first base and third base where they can stand while the team is playing offense.
  21. Contact – When the bat hits the pitched ball.
  22. Count – During the at-bat, the numbers of balls and strikes are recorded. The count is always said with the number of balls first, then the number of strikes. The umpire will also raise his hands to give the count with the hand closest to first base being the number of strikes. A sample count could be 2-1, with two balls and one strike.
  23. Cutoff – When the ball gets to the outfield, the cutoff is the person who the outfielder should throw to in an attempt to catch the base runner out.
  24. Cycle – This is when a batter hits a single, double, triple, and home run in one game. It is a rare accomplishment.
  25. Double play – This is a defensive play where two outs are made off of one hit ball.
  26. Drop ball – This is a pitch where the ball has a downward motion as it reaches the batter.
  27. ERA – ERA is the acronym for a pitcher’s earned run average. It is an important statistic that allows teams to compare pitcher success. The number is earned runs allowed divided by the number of innings pitched, times the number of innings in a game.
  28. Error – This is a misplay by a defensive player and it allows hitters or baserunner to reach a base that they would not have been able to reach had a proper play been made.
  29. Extra innings – When the game is tied at the end of regulation innings (usually 7 for fastpitch softball), the game continues until a team wins.
  30. Fair ball – When a ball is hit and lands in regulation territory.
  31. Fair territory – The space between the base lines, which are usually painted white.
  32. Fielder’s choice – When a batter hits the ball and reaches base, but a defensive player throws out another player instead.
  33. First base – This is the first spot the hitter runs to after hitting the ball. It is position #3 for the official scorer.
  34. Fly ball – A ball that is hit high into the air and travels deep into the outfield.
  35. Force out – This is a defensive play where the ball is hit fair and the runner is thrown out on the base they have to reach to move forward. First base is automatically a force out, but the other bases can become force outs in other situations.
  36. Foul ball – When a ball is hit and lands on the ground outside of fair territory.
  37. Full count – When the batter has all of the balls and strikes they can get: 3-2.
  38. Grand slam – An offensive play where the batter hits a home run while runners are on all three bases. This scores four runs.
  39. Ground ball/grounder – A batted ball that bounces or rolls on the ground.
  40. Hit – When a batter reaches base after hitting a ball that was fielded without any errors.
  41. Hit by pitch – When the batter is hit by the pitch, the ball is declared dead and the batter is given first base.
  42. Home plate – The base where the batter stands to hit the ball. It is also the last base that a runner must reach before scoring.
  43. Home run – When a batter hits the ball and is able to cross all four bases and earns an RBI.
  44. Infielder – A defensive player in the dirt area of the diamond.
  45. Line drive – When the batter hits the ball hard and it travels parallel to the ground for a significant distance before dropping. These usually result in base hits. They are often called frozen ropes.
  46. Load – When the batter prepares to hit the ball as the pitcher winds up. All batters have a slightly different way to do this, but the load is designed to make the swing smooth and effective.
  47. Off-speed Pitch – A grouping of pitches that are slower than the fastball. They are designed to throw off a batter’s timing.
  48. Out – When an umpire does not give a player a base, usually because the player strikes out or is thrown out on a defensive play.
  49. Outfield – A defensive player who is stationed outside of the dirt area of the field – usually in a grassy area. The positions are right field, center field, and left field.
  50. Passed Ball – When a pitch goes past the catcher, but the miss is the fault of the catcher.
  51. Pinch Runner – A player who comes into the game to run for another player. Can be an official substitution, but isn’t always.
  52. Pitcher – This is position #1 to the official scorer. The defensive position that is responsible for throwing the ball to the batter.
  53. Pop Fly – When a hit ball goes high up, but a short distance away from home plate. They do not always make it out of the infield.
  54. Pull – When the batted ball is hit to the same side of the field where the batter stands. For example, a left-handed batter stands in the box on the right-field side and hits to that same side.
  55. Relay – This is a defensive play where the outfielder throws to an infielder who throws to the base where another player attempts to make an out.
  56. Rise Ball – This is a pitch with a spin that causes the ball rises as it crosses the plate.
  57. Rubber – This is a spot in the middle of the pitching mound where the foot of the pitcher has to be at the beginning of the pitch.
  58. Run – When a base runner legally crosses home plate. The team of the player earns a point.
  59. RBI – This is short for run batted in, which is a statistic that credited in several situations, including a hit, a bases-loaded walk, a sacrifice, and sometimes an out.
  60. Sacrifice – When a batter is out, but the out allows a base runner to advance to the next base and possibly score a run.
  61. Safe – The umpire declares that a base runner successfully reached a base before an out is made.
  62. Scoring Position – When base runners are at second or third base.
  63. Single – When a batter hits the ball and safely reaches first base without errors being made.
  64. Slapper – A batter who doesn’t swing at the pitch, but instead slaps the bat – it is a form of a bunt.
  65. Softies – These are regulation-size balls, but are soft so they do not travel far when hit. Used in practice.
  66. Stance – This is the way the batter positions in the box and also refers to the starting position of the swing.
  67. Stealing – A base runner advances to the next base as the pitcher releases the ball.
  68. Strike – A pitch that is in the strike zone or is swung at by the batter. The strike can be a foul ball.
  69. Strike Zone – This is the area where the pitcher is attempting to throw a pitch. It is the width of the plate and between the batter’s knees and chest based on the batter’s stance. The umpire sets the zone.
  70. Swing – This is when the batter attempts to hit the ball with the bat.
  71. Tag out – When the fielder touches the base runner or steps on the base with the ball in the glove.
  72. Tag up – A base runner has to touch the base when a fly ball is caught before they can advance to the next one.
  73. Take – When a batter watches the pitch go by and does not swing at it.
  74. Tee – The stand that is used to put a ball on to practice hitting.
  75. Triple – When a batter hits the ball and is able to run to third base without being out. A three-base hit.
  76. Triple Play – This is a rare defensive move where three outs are made off of one batted ball.
  77. Umpire – The official who is making decisions on the plays and pitches in the game. At least one is needed to call balls and strikes.
  78. Walk – Another term for base-on-balls.
  79. Wild pitch – When a pitch gets past the catcher, and is the fault of the pitcher.
  80. Windmill – The style of underhand pitching that fast-pitch pitchers use.

Well there you have it – 80 of the most common softball terms that we currently know about. Have any more? Drop us a line and we will gladly add them to the list.