The Chemistry of a Softball


I chose to research the chemistry of a softball. It is the ball used in softball. This ball is not extremely complicated, only being made of about three things. But. I chose to research a softball because I am very dedicated to the sport and wanted to further my knowledge on it.

Composition of ...

Softballs are composed of two parts including the core and covering

    • The covering is made of synthetic, composite, or natural leather(which is commonly dyed yellow to help with visibility)
    • The leather is stitched around the ball with red thread made of cotton or linen
    • The core of the ball is made from a long fiber known as kapok (a mixture of cork and rubber) or a polyurethane mixture
    • These materials help improve ball resiliency and durability, increase ball flight distance when hit, prevent bat damage, and limit bat vibration and sting
    • The materials are tightly wound around the core to ensure the size is exactly 12 inches
    • In 2004 high-visibility yellow “optic” covering became standard for competition

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

Two main components:Leather and Kapok(polyurethane)

Leather: leather is made from the skins of various animals (cows, horses, pigs, goats)which are then dried and processed by “tanning” and then dyed with certain waxes and dyes which are yellow in this case.

Kapok(polyurethane):polyurethanes are in a class of compounds called reaction polymers which a produced when an isocyanate reacts with a polyol. The properties of a polyurethane are long, flexible stands(by the polyol) give a soft, elastic polymer


Chemistry's Role

Even though most people don’t think about how everything involves chemistry, it does. For instance in a softball kapok or polyurethane has to be melted down together and formed into the shape of the ball where then, a piece of leather that has been dyed yellow, is secured to the ball with red string. And in this process, the ball has to turn out at precisely 12 inches in diameter in order to be used.

Background Research

Softball was first invented in 1887, by George Hancock, who initially tied up a boxing glove to resemble a ball. The initial softball size was 16 inches in circumference and was then changed to 12 inches. It then officially became a sport in 1991.


-Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 07 May 2015.

It described the materials of the core and the color

-Nunley, Kim. "What Materials Are Used to Make Softballs?" EHow. Demand Media, 17 July 2009. Web. 07 May 2015.

Went in depth about the exact materials used to make the softball and why those materials were used

-"Athletic Scholarships." The History Of Softball. Who Invented Softball? N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2015.

Explained the origination of softball and how it evolved over time

-"Polyurethane." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 12 May 2015.

What polyurethane is and how it is made

About the Author

Brittin is a junior who attends Senior High. She has been playing sports including volleyball and softball all her life. But she especially loves softball. In the future she plans to go to college out of Montana to become a physical therapist. And even though she may seem mean she’s nice at heart.