The sports of baseball and softball share many similarities. They both involve someone throwing a ball while an opponent tries to hit said ball with a bat. They’re both played on a diamond-shaped infield surrounded by a large outfield. There are 3 bases and 1 home plate, which the players run around counterclock-wise. If you described both games to a foreigner who had never seen either before, they might think the games were one in the same. But there are some important differences.

While the fields are similar in shape, the ones used in softball are much smaller. The balls in softball are much larger than their baseball equivalents. The pitchers in baseball throw overhand from a mound while softball pitchers throw underhand from flat ground. But the biggest difference is that baseball is played by boys/men while softball is played by girls/women (I know there are recreational softball leagues that are co-ed but I’m referring to high school/college organized games).

There is one more important difference between the two: cheering. Softball players engage in what can be called “cheerleading.” They chant and cheer for their respective batters or pitchers in ways that would be the envy of any cheerleading squad. Baseball players may give an occasional “hey batter, batter” or “hum baby” and can raise quite a ruckus when a lot of them do it at the same time, but their cheers lack the organizational power and unity of the chants of softball players.

Boys/mens basketball and football have traditionally had cheerleaders, but baseball never has. I would think they’d be welcome through those long, slow innings of nothing going on. Softball, on the other hand, never needed any because the players are their own cheerleaders.

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