Today I played my first slow pitch softball game in China. Or ever. I have played 5 years of fast pitch softball, so everything is very alike. The only thing that I still have yet to get used to is batting. And by the way, they use the same sized softball I am used to playing with. We do not play with a cantaloupe-sized softball like my grandfather used to.
One major difference that I have noticed playing slow pitch here in China is that there is no real strike zone. The only way to tell if a pitch is a ball or a strike is a mat that is located directly behind home plate. If the pitch lands on the mat, strike. Anywhere else, ball. I am not sure if this method is used in the States or not. My other guess is that they do not have a qualified umpire to referee the game. Based on the equipment and conditions these college students work with, I would not be surprised if the latter is true (somebody please inform me of the truth in the comments section).
The arc of the pitch is the factor I am not used to. That is something for me to practice on and improve.
About the conditions: we play ball on an astro turf soccer field. The neighboring university apparently has a baseball/softball field, but not us. The field as fences and nets around the borders, with two games going on at one time, with their outfielders overlapping a bit (softball practice squeezes two more games onto the same field). A majority of the players do not wear cleats, myself included. You can wear what ever pants you like. I, as many others did, wore denim jeans. I chose this apparel because my sweat pants are high waters on me now. But the pair of jeans I did wear were generally loose and allowed me to move freely. Before the game, we warmed up in a field of weeds and foxtail plants (I do not know if there is a more proper term for those plants).
Here is two differences I have found between slow pitch softball in China and what I am used to:
- A foul ball can be the third strike
- Not only do runners not slide, but they are not allowed to
- Instead of exchanging high fives or hand shakes with your opponent at the end of the game, they bow. They also bow to the referee.
As for my performance in the game, it was poor (I did better during practice). I did not get on base once. I batted a total of 3 times, a caught pop-fly, strike out, and thrown out at 1st base. To be fair, the sun was in my eyes while batting. But honestly, that’s just an excuse for me being out of practice of this sport that I truly enjoy. That’s honestly why I play it. It is not to win, but it is to enjoy it. To enjoy learning about it. To enjoy playing it. To enjoy exercising.
The game score was 7-8. The other team won. It was a good 7 inning game.
Bible Verse of the Day:
All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God.
1 John 4:15