All 15 Softball Pitches You Might See, and What They Do

Last updated on July 20, 2023

As you start to watch or play higher levels of softball, you’ll start to notice that some pitchers throw a lot more pitch types than others. Has this got you wondering how many pitches a softball pitcher can throw? If you’re a softball player or just a fan of the game, it’s important to understand the different types of pitches that can be used during a game.

There are 15 different pitches that softball pitchers can use, each with its own unique characteristics and advantages. Some of the most common pitches include the fastball, change-up, rise, curve, and slider. While not every pitcher will use all pitch types, it’s important to have a variety of pitches in your arsenal to keep batters guessing and improve as a pitcher. In this article, we’ll explore each of these pitches in more detail and discuss how they can be used to your advantage as a softball pitcher. As well as how to make sure you can be prepared to face all of them at the plate.

Pitch w/no batter

4 Types of Pitches

Softball pitchers have a few different types of pitches they can use to keep batters guessing. Here are the four main types of pitches you should know about, and each pitch under that category:


  • Two-seam fastball: A fastball thrown with the index and middle fingers on the seams of the ball, slower than the four-seam fastball but with more movement.
  • Four-seam fastball: A fastball thrown with the index and middle fingers on top of the ball, the most common pitch in softball.

Breaking Balls

  • Riseball: A breaking ball thrown with a high release point, causing the ball to rise as it approaches the batter.
  • Drop ball: A breaking ball that is thrown with a similar motion to the curveball, but the ball drops instead of curving. The pitch is meant to be difficult for the batter to hit due to its downward movement.
  • Curveball: A breaking ball thrown with a snapping motion of the wrist, causing the ball to curve downward.
  • Slider: This breaking ball curves more side-to-side than a traditional curveball
  • Screwball: A breaking ball thrown with a twisting motion of the wrist, causing the ball to move in an S-shape.
  • Drop-curve: A combination pitch that drops and curves.
  • Backdoor curve: A curveball that starts out of the strike zone and curves back over the plate, often thrown at a batter’s hip or hands to induce a foul ball.
  • Backdoor screw: A pitch that spins in the opposite direction of a curveball, starting out of the strike zone and curving back over the plate.
  • Drop curve: A curveball that drops instead of curving downward.


  • Back-hand release: A changeup technique where the pitcher flips the ball backward with their hand.
  • Circle change: A changeup thrown with a grip that forms a circle with the index and middle fingers and the thumb.
  • Knuckle change: A changeup thrown with the knuckles instead of the fingers, using a grip similar to that of a knuckleball.

The Knuckleball

The knuckleball is a type of pitch that is thrown with minimal spin, causing it to move unpredictably through the air. This can make it difficult for batters to hit accurately. The knuckleball is a difficult pitch to master, but it can be very effective when used correctly.

Pitch Calling

Pitch calling is an essential part of softball, where the catcher calls the pitches for the pitcher. It is essential to have a good understanding of the opposing team’s hitters, the pitcher’s strengths and weaknesses, and the game situation.

Reading the hitters is an important part of pitch calling. The catcher needs to pay attention to the batter’s stance, swing, and tendencies. This information can help the pitcher throw the right pitch to get the batter out. Identifying weaknesses is also crucial in pitch calling. The catcher needs to know the batter’s weaknesses and call pitches that exploit those weaknesses. For example, if the batter struggles with high pitches, the catcher may call for a rise ball.

Both weaknesses and tendencies would be listed in a scouting report, making them such an important part of the game. An in-depth scouting report can help a pitcher and catcher keep an advantage over the batter throughout the at-bat.

Pitch w/batter swinging

Batter’s Perspective

As a hitter, facing a variety of pitches can be challenging. Reading pitches and anticipating the location, velocity, and spin of the ball are essential skills to have in order to succeed at the plate.

Reading Pitches

When facing a softball pitcher, it’s important to pay attention to the pitcher’s release point, arm action, and grip to help identify the type of pitch that’s coming your way. By recognizing the different pitch types, you can adjust your swing accordingly.

Another way to identify the pitch is to watch the spin as the pitch is coming towards you. If it’s a lower pitch that’s spinning fast downwards, that’s likely a drop-curve that’s going to drop out of the zone. The pitch may have looked good to start, so it takes great reaction time and bat speed and tons of practice to be able to do this at the plate consistently.

Science and Technology in Softball

Softball is a sport that has seen significant advancements in science and technology over the years. These developments have helped players improve their skills, optimize their training, and better understand the game. Here are some ways that science and technology have impacted softball:

Softball Training

Technology has made it easier for softball players to train and improve their skills. Video analysis software, for example, allows players to review their technique and make adjustments to their form. Ground pressure mat technology can help players optimize their stance and balance, while wearable technology can track a player’s movements and provide data on their performance. Additionally, there are pitching machines that can simulate many different types of pitches and movements; which can be really helpful to give you game like scenarios as a batter.


New sports technology is transforming softball in many ways. For example, smart bats can provide feedback on a player’s swing, while radar guns can measure the speed of a pitch. Wearable technology can track a player’s heart rate, body temperature, and other metrics, providing valuable data for coaches and trainers.


In conclusion, there are seven different standard pitches in softball, including the fastball, change-up, screwball, rise, curve, drop, and slider. However, not every pitcher will use all seven pitch types, and some may use variations of these pitches.

It’s important to note that the effectiveness of a pitch depends on various factors, including the pitcher’s skill level, the batter’s reaction time, and the game situation. That’s why pitchers must constantly work on improving their pitching skills and mastering different types of pitches to keep the batters guessing.

So, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced pitcher, keep practicing and experimenting with different pitches until you find the ones that work best for you. You can practice new pitches while playing catch with friends to try and gain comfort and control with the pitch before bringing it into your bullpen sessions or showing it to a coach. Make sure to keep practicing as you likely won’t get every pitch the first time you try to throw it. Practice and patience are key!

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