Whether you’re a softball newbie or just need a refresher course on the game, this list of 30 essential softball terms will help you feel more prepared for game day.

From fundamentals like “bases loaded” and “fair ball” to lesser-known terms such as “sacrifice bunt” and “can of corn,” this glossary has all the info you need to become a master of the diamond.

At Bat

This refers to the time when a batter is facing a pitcher, attempting to hit the ball into play. Until they put the ball in play, they are at bat. This can end in either an out or a hit.


A base is one of four spots on the field where players must run in order to score a run. There are three bases (first, second, and third) plus home plate that makeup what is known as the diamond or infield.

Base Runner

A base runner is an offensive player who has successfully reached one of the four bases - first, second, third, or home - and is running around the diamond in order to score.  Base runners can move from base to base while being pitched to by stealing or taking leads off each base.

Bases Loaded

When all three bases are occupied by base runners of the offensive team during an at-bat.

Batter's Box

The batter’s box is where batters stand when they are at bat. There are two boxes on either side of home plate, one for right-handed batters and one for left-handed batters. This allows batsmen to get into an optimal position when swinging the bat and helps protect them from being hit by thrown balls.

Batting Average

A batting average measures how often a batter gets on base during their at-bats. It is calculated by dividing the total number of hits by the total number of at-bats.


A bunt is an offensive play where a batter attempts to tap or squeeze the ball between the pitcher and the catcher while running to first base. This can be used as a way for a team to advance runners who are already on base without having to hit for power.


The catcher stands behind the home plate wearing protective gear such as a helmet and chest protector while receiving pitches from the pitcher and throwing them back when necessary.

Can of Corn

An easy catch for an outfielder (usually referring to fly balls) where no effort needs to be expended in order for them to make the catch.

Double Play

A double play occurs when two outs are recorded in succession during the same play. This usually happens when a ball is hit by an infielder who throws it to another fielder who then tags or throws it to another fielder before the runner can reach base safely.

Drop Ball

A drop ball is a pitch thrown with an intentional arc downward in an attempt to deceive the batter into swinging at it off-balance or missing it altogether. It requires great accuracy and control from pitchers who want their drop balls to land exactly where they intend them to!


An error is an action (or lack thereof) made by a defensive player that allows an offensive player to reach a base or advance further than they otherwise would have been able to.

Fair Ball

When a pitch is hit within the foul lines and isn't blocked by any part of the defensive team's body, it's called a fair ball. This means that the batter is entitled to run to first base and all other runners may advance as well.

Fly Ball

A fly ball is any batted ball that goes high in the air before landing somewhere on or off of the field.

Foul Ball

A foul ball is any type of batted ball that does not stay in fair territory.


A ball hit in between two outfielders.

Ground Ball

A ground ball is any type of batted ball that rolls along the ground before being fielded by one of the fielders.

Grand Slam

This term refers to when four runs are scored in one turn at bat thanks to hitting one home run with all bases already loaded with runners prior; thus resulting in four total runs being scored off only one hit!

Home Run

A home run occurs when a batter hits the ball over the outfield fence without touching any part of the defense’s body or equipment on its way out.

Intentional Walk

An intentional walk occurs when a team's pitcher intentionally throws four balls outside of the strike zone, allowing the batter to walk to first base without having to swing at any of them.

This is often done if a team wants to avoid giving up runs by allowing a strong hitter on base.

Pickoff Throw

When a pitcher tries to undo the baserunner by throwing a pickoff throw directly towards the first baseman/catcher for tagging him out before he reaches safely.


The pitcher is the player responsible for throwing pitches during gameplay. They stand at the center of the diamond and use their arm strength to propel the ball to home plate.


Runs are scored when a batter makes it around all four bases safely without being tagged out or thrown out by other fielders.


When a runner reaches first base without being tagged out or forced out by another fielder, they are considered safe.

Sacrifice Bunt

When a hitter intentionally hits grounded a bunt towards the defensive side so that other runners may advance without worrying about getting out themselves.


The person responsible for keeping track of both teams’ scores throughout the game along with other important stats such as RBIs (runs batted in), ERA (earned run average), batting averages, etc.


Before every pitch, batters must adopt certain stances depending on what type of pitch they expect will be thrown (fastballs vs curves).


It occurs when the batter swings at a pitch within the strike zone and misses it or when a batter doesn’t swing at a pitch but it was thrown inside the strike zone.

Strike Zone

The strike zone is formally defined as the area over home plate between a batter's knees and chest. This zone is set by an umpire that stands behind the pitcher and is the same width as the plate.

Triple Play

A triple play is similar to a double play except that three outs are recorded instead of two during one play


Now that you've mastered these 30 basic softball terms, you're well on your way to becoming a knowledgeable fan!

Whether you're playing on game day yourself or watching from the stands, having this vocabulary under your belt will help make sure you understand what's going on every step of the way. Have fun!

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