How Fast Is A 77 Mph Softball Pitch In Baseball



Softball and baseball, while similar in many respects, have some key differences that influence the dynamics of the game. One such difference is the pitching style and speed. This blog will delve into how a 77 mph softball pitch compares to a baseball pitch, considering the factors that make the speeds in the two sports appear different. Pitching is a crucial aspect of both softball and baseball. The pitcher’s ability to throw the ball with speed, accuracy, and movement often determines the outcome of the game. However, the mechanics of pitching, the distances involved, and the resulting perception of speed differ between the two sports.

Pitching Mechanics


In baseball, pitchers throw the ball overhand from a raised mound, which adds to the velocity and downward angle of the pitch. In contrast, softball pitchers deliver the ball underhand from a flat pitching circle, which creates a different trajectory and style of pitch.

Pitching Distance

The distance from the pitching mound to home plate in baseball is 60 feet 6 inches, whereas in softball, the distance is shorter, typically 43 feet in fastpitch. This shorter distance means that even though softball pitches might have lower radar gun readings, they can appear just as fast, if not faster, to the batter.

Understanding the Speed of a 77 mph Softball Pitch

A 77 mph pitch in softball is considered exceptionally fast. To understand how this speed translates to baseball, we need to consider the time it takes for the ball to reach the batter.

Time to Home Plate

In baseball, a pitch traveling at 95 mph takes approximately 0.43 seconds to reach home plate. For 77 mph pitch travels 43 feet in about 0.38 seconds. The difference in distance means that despite the lower speed, the ball reaches the batter in a comparable amount of time.

Here’s a simplified comparison

Baseball (95 mph): 60 feet 6 inches in 0.43 seconds

Softball (77 mph): 43 feet in 0.38 seconds

Reaction Time

Given these times, the batter’s reaction time in both sports is very similar. A batter facing a 95 mph baseball pitch has only slightly more time to react than a batter facing a 77 mph pitch. This highlights how the perceived speed and challenge are comparable between the two sports.

The Physics Behind Pitch Speed and Reaction Time

To better understand this, we can delve into the physics of pitch speed and reaction time.

Velocity and Distance

Velocity (speed) is measured as distance divided by time. In baseball and softball, the pitch speed is often measured as the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand. However, the effective speed – how fast the pitch seems to the batter – is influenced by the distance the ball travels.

Calculating Effective Speed

We can calculate the effective speed of a 77 mph softball pitch if it were thrown from the baseball mound distance. Using the formula:

Effective Speed≈55 mph

This calculation shows that a 77 mph softball pitch, if thrown from a baseball mound, would be equivalent to a 55 mph baseball pitch in terms of the time it takes to reach the batter. However, due to the shorter distance in softball, the reaction time for batters is equivalent to facing a much faster pitch.

Comparative Analysis: Softball vs. Baseball Pitching

Visual Perception and Reaction

The shorter distance in softball affects the visual perception and reaction time of the batter. A pitch reaches the batter much quicker than the radar gun speed might suggest. This requires softball batters to have quick reflexes and a keen eye, much like their baseball counterparts.

Pitching Strategies and Techniques

Pitchers often rely on a mix of speed and movement, utilizing pitches like the rise ball, drop ball, and changeup to confuse batters. Baseball pitchers, while also using a variety of pitches, tend to emphasize velocity and breaking balls. The different pitching styles require batters in both sports to adapt their hitting techniques accordingly.

The Impact on Training and Preparation

Training for Pitch Speed

Both softball and baseball players undergo rigorous training to handle high-speed pitches. Drills focusing on reaction time, hand-eye coordination, and swing mechanics are crucial. Batters use pitching machines set to simulate the speeds they will face in actual games, which helps in adjusting to the quick reaction times required.

Mental Preparation

The mental aspect of facing fast pitches is equally important. Batters must anticipate the type of pitch and its likely location, requiring a high level of focus and mental agility. Visualization techniques and studying pitchers’ tendencies are common practices to enhance mental preparation.


The Role of Technology

Radar Guns and Speed Measurement

Modern technology, including radar guns, provides precise measurements of pitch speed. However, understanding the context of these speeds – the distance and time to home plate – is essential for accurate comparison between softball and baseball.

Video Analysis

High-speed cameras and video analysis tools help players and coaches study pitching mechanics and batter responses. These tools are invaluable for fine-tuning techniques and improving performance against high-speed pitches.

Real-World Examples and Case Studies

Jennie Finch vs. MLB Players

A famous example of the comparative speed challenge is Jennie Finch, an Olympic softball pitcher, striking out MLB players with her underhand fastpitch. Despite the lower radar gun readings, her pitches were incredibly difficult for baseball players to hit due to the reduced reaction time.

College Softball vs. Baseball

At the collegiate level, both softball and baseball pitchers achieve impressive speeds. Fastpitch softball pitchers often throw in the 60-70 mph range, with elite pitchers reaching speeds over 75 mph. College baseball pitchers regularly throw in the 90-95 mph range. The reaction times for batters in both sports are remarkably similar, emphasizing the comparable challenge.

Comparing Pitching Styles: Softball vs. Baseball

To further understand how a 77 mph softball pitch compares to a baseball pitch, it’s essential to delve deeper into the different pitching styles and techniques used in both sports. These styles significantly influence how pitches are perceived by batters and contribute to the overall dynamics of the game.

Softball Pitching Styles

Underhand Windmill Motion: The most distinctive feature of softball pitching is the underhand windmill motion. This technique allows pitchers to generate significant speed and spin on the ball. The windmill motion involves a complete 360-degree rotation of the arm, which can produce pitches with high velocity and varied movement.

Pitch Variety: Softball pitchers have a diverse arsenal of pitches, including the rise ball, drop ball, curveball, screwball, and changeup. Each pitch has a unique trajectory and movement, making it challenging for batters to anticipate and hit.

Release Point: The release point in softball is closer to the ground due to the underhand motion. This low release point creates a different angle of approach, which can make the ball appear to “jump” or “drop” as it reaches the batter.

Baseball Pitching Styles

Overhand and Three-Quarter Motions: Baseball pitchers typically use overhand or three-quarter arm motions. These techniques allow for high velocities and create a downward trajectory on the ball, often referred to as “pitching downhill.”

Pitch Variety: Baseball pitchers also have a wide range of pitches, including fastballs, curveballs, sliders, changeups, and knuckleballs. Each pitch type has its own speed, spin, and movement, making it difficult for batters to predict.

Release Point: The release point in baseball is higher than in softball, due to the overhand motion. This creates a steep angle of descent for the pitch, which can be challenging for batters to adjust to, especially when combined with high velocities.



While a 77 mph softball pitch might appear slower than a 95 mph baseball pitch on the radar gun, the shorter distance in softball creates a similar, if not more challenging, reaction time for the batter. The effective speed and the time it takes for the ball to reach the plate make the experience comparable across the two sports. Understanding the nuances of pitch speed and reaction time in softball and baseball enriches our appreciation of both sports. It highlights the athleticism, skill, and mental toughness required to succeed, whether you’re standing in the batter’s box facing a fastpitch softball or a high-velocity baseball.