You may have noticed that some softball players wear masks while others don’t. Infielders wear protective masks to avoid serious harm to their faces. Softball fields are smaller than baseball fields, which means infielders stand much closer to the batter. If a hitter hits the ball directly to one of the infielders’ faces or heads, there is not much time for them to react.
Infielders in softball, especially pitchers, don’t always have enough time to catch a ball before it hits them in the face. It can be challenging to react in time to protect your face and head when standing so close to the batter.
As mentioned before, softball fields are smaller and the bases are shorter distances apart than baseball fields. The difference in the distance between the pitcher and batter in softball vs. baseball can be as much as 30 feet.
Because of the short distance from the batter to the infielders, some softball players choose to wear a protective mask in case they don’t react quickly enough to protect their face. The closer you are to the batter, the higher your risk of getting hit in the head by the ball. This is why catchers must wear a protective mask.
Pitchers are the closest to the batter, so they are the most likely position to choose to wear a protective face mask. Other infielders such as the first baseman and third baseman play closer to the batter than baseball. Sometimes, the distance is only 40 feet, so they may choose to wear masks as well.
Protective masks for pitchers
It is a good idea for pitchers to wear a protective mask during a game. It is a challenge to defend yourself at a short distance from the batter, especially if you have just pitched the ball.
Metal vs. wooden bats
Another reason softball infielders are more likely to wear a protective mask is because softball uses metal bats while baseball uses wooden bats. The exit velocity of a ball hit with a metal bat is faster than one hit with a wooden bat.
Exit velocity refers to how fast the ball comes off of the bat after a hit. Obviously, the faster the ball is traveling, the more risk there is to infielders of getting hit in the head. Since softball players use metal bats, the risk of harm to the face is higher than for baseball players.
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Protective masks give more confidence
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Softball players are usually young girls, and young girls tend to be more cautious about harm to their face than boys. This is not always true, but girls are more likely to choose to protect their face.
Also, wearing a protective face mask gives softball players more confidence to play closer to the batter. Infielders wearing masks are more likely to run up for bunts and fake bunts.
Some coaches may require all infielders to wear a protective mask so they are more confident and willing to play closer. Also, if a player must wear one because of a previous injury, they will not be singled out if every infielder is wearing one.
A previous injury to the face puts softball infielders at risk of further damage. For example, if a player has broken her nose and it is not fully healed, another hit could cause permanent, severe damage. Therefore, it is necessary to wear a protective mask even after it has healed.
For girls with braces, getting hit in the face with a softball can be extra painful and cause damage to the mouth. Most orthodontists recommend that girls wear a protective mask if they have braces.
There is one main reason softball players choose to wear a protective mask during the game: to protect their face. Infielders are most likely to wear a mask, especially pitchers. That is because they are much closer to the batter than in baseball, as much as 30 feet closer.
Being so close to the batter means you don’t have a lot of reaction time to protect yourself. This is especially true for pitchers because they are not only the closest, but they also have just finished the action of pitching and it can be hard to recover quickly.
Softball also uses metal bats while baseball uses wooden bats. This is another reason softball players are more likely to wear protective masks. The exit velocity is quicker for a ball hit with a metal bat than a wooden bat. The faster the ball travels, the harder it hits you and the less reaction time you have.
Other softball players choose to wear a protective mask because it gives them the confidence to play closer to the batter. Another reason players wear masks is because they have had a previous injury or they have braces.