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Softball is a variant of baseball played with a larger ball, using underhand rather than overhand pitching, utilizing a smaller field, and running for seven rather than nine innings. Americans may be spectators and fans of professional baseball, but they play softball on a recreational basis. A softball is easier for a casual player to hit than a baseball. Because the large ball travels with less speed than a typical baseball, the chance of injury is lower for softball than for baseball, making it an ideal family or casual sport, sometimes involving men and women in the same game. In many communities, businesses sponsor softball teams and leagues for their employees, restaurants and bars for their patrons. Skill levels vary, but the idea is always recreation.

On the collegiate level, softball is a serious sport, reaching the Olympics on a number of occasions. The world of professional softball in the United States is small. Several professional leagues for both men and women have come, foundered, and folded. As of this writing, National Pro Fastpitch still operates a small women’s professional league.

On America’s Independence Day, the Fourth of July, families and community groups typically organize picnics and barbecues accompanied by softball games.

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