Column: Softball deserves more attention

You should love softball.

April showers have left their depressing chill over the UW-Madison campus… again. But fear not, sports are alive and well here! Wait, still not over the football loss to South Carolina, the hockey loss to North Dakota or the hoops loss to Kentucky? OK well I’m still bummed about the last one, but softball season is in full swing.

See what I did there?

Badger softball has been on the rise for the past few seasons under the leadership of head coach Yvette Healy. Since Healy came aboard, the Badgers have recorded 30 wins or more every season. Last year, they had their best year ever, racking up 44 wins and making the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2005.

This year, the Badgers are back at it, winning 13 games in a row. They are currently 30-15 and charging their way into the Big Ten tournament.

Come on, that’s exciting!

College softball is great. It’s played in glorious spring weather, the games are faster and easier to digest and the field is smaller so spectators can see better.

More interesting—a fast pitch softball is harder to hit than a baseball.

A baseball is thrown faster, yes. But in baseball, the pitcher is 60 feet 6 inches away and on an elevated mound, compared to softball where the pitcher is in a circle that’s only 43 feet away.

According to ESPN Sport Science, if a baseball pitcher throws 95 mph, the hitter will have .395 seconds to hit the ball. A softball pitch at 70 mph gives the hitter only .350 seconds to hit the ball.

Scarier than that, the softball rises as it leaves the pitcher’s hand, making it almost impossible to read.

With a baseball pitch falling from high to low, it is much easier for a hitter to drop his hands to hit the ball. It follows the natural path of the swing. That’s not the case in softball.

Softball games are also very exciting because they are shorter. If a team gives up a bad inning, they have less time to reclaim their lead.

As testament to this, last year’s NCAA softball final was one of the most exciting sporting events of the year.

Tennessee and Oklahoma battled into the 14th inning of game one before the Sooners won on a walk-off home run.

Maybe the Badgers can follow in the footsteps of this year’s volleyball and basketball teams and contend for a national championship in Oklahoma City.

Do you think it’s harder to hit a baseball or a softball? Are you excited for the softball postseason? Email gsatterfield@wisc.edu and let him know your thoughts.

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