It's called softball for a reason. The ball is bigger than a baseball, and the pitch is underhand -- a little bit friendlier, a little bit easier to hit.
But it is still a competition.
With the arrival of spring, softball players of all skill levels can be a part of that competition with the Chesapeake and Potomac Softball League (CAPS). The league is preparing to kick off its 25th season in May.
''Our league is set up in a total of six different divisions,'' says Ed Vincent, a 42-year-old mortgage broker who serves as the CAPS commissioner. He also coaches the D.C. Renegades, one of the teams in the league.
''We have a level for pretty much anyone who wants to join,'' he says, adding that 90 percent of the league, which includes more than 400 members and more than 20 teams, is made up of gay men and lesbians.
''If you're a gay [person] looking to play softball, joining CAPS is a more friendly place for you to start and play, rather than playing in a straight league,'' Vincent says. ''It's a very friendly environment.
Prospective members can brush up their softball skills and determine exactly which division they fall in at a skills clinic event, from 12 to 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 27, at one of CAPS' regular meeting fields, Tucker Road in Fort Washington, Md. The new season kicks off on May 4 and is organized to include 18 games in nine weeks.
It's not just about competition, however.
''It's not just a bunch of guys and girls being real competitive about playing softball,'' says Vincent. ''There's a very big social aspect as well.''
That includes a season kickoff party on Saturday, May 3, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Town Danceboutique, 2009 8th St. NW. The event is free for CAPS members, and costs $10 for the general public.
For more information about CAPS, or to join, visit www.eteamz.com/caps.