There are a total of nine positions in softball - like baseball. These are first base, second base, shortstop, third base, left field, center field, right field, pitcher, and catcher.

These positions have different roles and responsibilities in a game of softball. Note that all of these positions only apply to the defensive team. You’re either waiting for your turn or running on the field when you’re on the offensive team.

We’ll only be talking about the defensive positions. The baserunner and batter positions are the only positions in the offensive team, and it’s made up of the player who hits the softball or runs bases and scores for their team. The hitter is primarily responsible for hitting the ball, advancing runners, and making contact with the ball in play.

Softball pitcher holding the ball.

What are all the positions in softball?

Softball is a fast-paced game that requires players to be constantly on the move. This makes each position vital to the team’s success.

Let’s discuss all nine defensive positions, including their roles and responsibilities.

1. First base

The first baseman stands between home plate and second base. They watch potential baserunners coming down towards them from the home plate while also keeping an eye out on the following (second) base.

When there are two outs, they must be ready to catch a fly ball at any moment that comes their way because it may score someone else who is running towards first base.

First basemen are responsible for fielding ground balls hit by other players and throwing them to second base or home plate (depending on whether your team has a designated hitter). They also have to catch fly balls hit by opposing teams’ batters so they can run them down and tag out runners who’ve stolen bases.

2. Second base

This is the next position, between the first and the third base.

Second basemen are responsible for fielding ground balls hit by other players and throwing them to first base or home plate (depending on whether your team has a designated hitter). They also have to catch fly balls hit by opposing teams’ batters so they can run them down and tag out runners who’ve stolen bases.

3. Shortstop

The shortstop ensures that no one steals or reaches base on any ball hit to them. They also field balls hit them.

The shortstop is the third baseman’s backup. The shortstop has a greater range than the third baseman but still plays closer to the infield. The shortstop covers the second base and sometimes the first base when there are runners on base. The shortstop is also responsible for throwing out runners attempting to steal a base.

This is the most challenging position in softball.

4. Third base

Third basemen are responsible for fielding ground balls hit by other players.

The third baseman is often considered the most important player on the field after the shortstop because this is where a lot of play is made.

They also have an excellent arm for fielding ground balls hit right at them, which allows them to throw out runners who attempt to steal bases.

5. Left field

The left fielder covers center field while waiting on a fly ball that might be caught by either an outfielder, first base, or second base playing defense. Left fielders are usually fast runners who try hard to catch up with balls that have been hit into left field but have not yet reached them.

6. Center field

The center field is one of the most important defensive positions. It’s in charge of covering most of the infield while also managing to keep up with the fastballs and breaking balls that are thrown at a pitcher’s best advantage.

The center fielder has to be able to sprint, jump high, and make good catches. They have to be able to read off the pitcher’s delivery and react accordingly. In addition, they have to switch directions quickly while maintaining balance and avoiding collisions with runners on base who are trying to score.

The center fielder’s role is to protect the whole team in a way and ensure as few runs are made as possible. The center fielder, in this regard, has one of the most challenging jobs of all three outfield positions. A center fielder must be able to read a hitter’s approach and anticipate what they will do. They must also be able to cover a large area quickly and accurately. The center fielder’s responsibilities include:

  • Protecting the plate from being hit by a pitch or a batted ball (this is usually done by taking away the plate).
  • Providing support for the other fields at each base (this is usually done by throwing out runners who try to advance on their own).
  • Catching fly balls that are hit into shallow right field (this is usually done by diving toward the ball).
  • Fielding ground balls in shallow right field (this is usually done using good hand-eye coordination).

7. Right field

Right fielders are usually more athletic than their counterparts in other softball positions because they have more room for movement. They’ll generally cover an area on the outfield fence between second base and third base but sometimes move out toward left field when better runners are on base than those at second or third base.

They are responsible for ensuring that there are no errors made by anyone else on their team. The right fielder must always watch for runners trying to steal bases, leading the team into trouble if they do not pay close attention. This means that this player needs to have good eyesight, as well as be able to turn quickly when required.

They must also pay attention when someone else runs toward the home plate.

8. Pitcher

The pitcher has the primary responsibility of throwing the ball. This position is also responsible for not allowing any runners to advance.

If the pitcher doesn’t allow the offensive team’s hitter to hit any balls - then the rest of the team has a straightforward path to victory. The better the pitcher, the easier the game becomes.

In many ways, the pitcher position is the most critical on the field. The pitcher does not only have to throw the ball but also has to run in and out of the mound, get runners out at the first base and second bases, and even throw spikes at home plate.

The pitcher has many roles in softball. The primary role a pitcher plays is throwing the ball. This can be done with a glove or bare hand. A pitcher throws a baseball one foot away from their body with their arm extended forward and their elbow bent at 90 degrees.

A pitcher must also run in and out of the mound, throw strikes during an inning, and get runners out if and when needed.

Softball pitchers are responsible for throwing the ball from the pitcher’s mound. The pitcher’s mound is a wide platform with a foul line drawn from home plate to first base. Pitchers throw the ball to the catchers of their team.

They must also read hitters’ swings, time their throws correctly, and hit their pitches where they want them - inside or outside of the strike zone.

9. Catcher

The catcher is responsible for calling the game and receiving pitches from the pitcher. He also acts as an umpire when no other umpires are on the field.

The catcher holds up their glove to signal “safe” and “out” when they sees a pitch hitting someone in the batter’s box. The catcher also uses their hands to signal certain plays, such as stealing bases, tagging up runners, and getting out of the way of a pitch that might hit them.

Catchers are usually the most experienced players on the field because they have to ensure that their team doesn’t make mistakes when batting or fielding. They also have to throw accurately, which is essential for catching bunts and pickoffs.

The catcher may stand directly behind home plate or move up closer to home plate, depending on where the pitch is going.

Their coordination with the pitcher often determines the play that will happen.

What is the most challenging position to play in softball?

The shortstop is arguably the hardest position in any game of softball. This position demands the highest levels of motion and athleticism. Whereas you can excel in other positions, such as a pitcher specifically, you need to excel in many things physically to be good in this one.

The skills you need to improve to be a good shortstop include agility, strength, range, glove skills, coordination, and field awareness. Being subpar in any discipline can be fatal for your team.

Whereas another position might only need explosive agility, wide arm range, or excellent field awareness - the shortstop needs all of these skills and then some.

Softball is hard for the uninitiated and needs years of practice to excel. It’s more challenging to play than baseball. So, you can only imagine how hard it must be to be a good shortstop for your team.

But as with all other positions, there’s no skill beyond your reach, given sufficient practice and training.

The shortstop has a large defensive responsibility. They must play in front of the other infielders, who are closer to them than they are to them. The shortstop usually has the most range and arm strength on the team because they are often required to make difficult throws from deep in the hole where other players cannot reach them.

This position’s player also needs a good throwing arm, but because they tend to be smaller than other players, they will not have as much speed or power behind their throws as a right-handed pitcher, for example.

A good shortstop can use their quickness and agility to get around balls hit at high speeds by other fielders and make difficult plays on balls hit over their heads that would otherwise be troublesome for other fielders to manage.

What is the best position to play in softball?

There’s no single “best position” in softball. It all depends on what you prefer to play. To a surprisingly great extent, what a player will like to play depends largely on their personality.

There are pros and cons to every position. For example, the shortstop is a versatile position. It’s very highly regarded. But it’s also the hardest position to play.

The pitcher is another coveted position - but the pitcher must rest between games.

The defensive positions offer you plenty of chances to shine and stand out. Choose what works best for you, and try a few before making up your mind.

Outfielders vs. infielders

The infield and outfield are two different parts of the softball diamond.

  • Outfielder: Has primary responsibility to field balls hit in fair territory and get them back safely when possible. This position also has a secondary role as an offensive threat, but usually not as much as a hitter.
  • Infielder: Has primary responsibility to field balls hit in fair territory and get them back safely when possible. This position also has a secondary role as an offensive threat, but usually not as much as a hitter or pitcher.

The infielder’s primary responsibility is to make plays at second base, third base, and shortstop. They also have to throw accurately to first base when runners are on base.

Outfielders have a lot of running and jumping involved in their job description. They must be able to run fast enough to beat out ground balls, catch fly balls over fences, and jump high enough to catch pop flies.