One can’t deny that football is the most popular sport in the United States with around 112.3 million audiences and is claimed to be liked by 37% of the population.
However, statistics showed that up to 1.81 million participants increased in fast-pitch softball in the United States during the 10 years from 2011, including the young kids.
Also, 6.35 million participants increased in slow-pitch softball during the same period. Before talking about how many innings in softball let us look at what softball is.
All About Softball
These are two different types of softball games which alone let you see that though softball has less participation and thus lesser audience count (as it only started as a replacement for baseball and is deemed as a recreational play), it’s not failed to surprise the world by its slow but steady growth.
It had around 1.2 million audiences on ESPN for the 2021 Women’s College World Series. Before knowing ‘how many innings in softball’;
1. Can We Talk About Softball?
The World Baseball Softball Confederation claims it’s played by more than 65 million people globally, along with baseball in Canada, Japan, and Australia.
If you’re familiar with baseball, you can play softball too. But if you don’t, you’ll need a bat, ball, and glove to start as a beginner and a field too specially designed to play softball. It’s a game that can’t be mentioned without baseball, the latter being an ancient counterpart.
The four important figures in playing the game are; batter, pitcher, catcher, and fielder. You need to take part in seven innings (sometimes cut short to 3-5 to wind up early) and outscore to be qualified as a winner or strikeout player of the opposite team before they succeed in scoring high. Before learning how many innings in softball, let us try to get all the information needed to play.
2. How Did Softball Reach Where It Is Today?
How did softball turn into a world-class sport from being only a pleasure game? History is evident of its evolution from an accidental game to one reaching new heights.
Once upon a time, George Hancock was spending time with his friends in the Farragut Boat Club in winter, waiting for a football game’s result to be announced between Harvard and Yale in 1887.
This story of a softball game started in Chicago, Illinois, when one of the alumni of Yale, on winning the game, threw a glove (like a ball) toward a Harvard fan, and he attempted to hit the glove with a broomstick.
This short-allowed Hancock to create a mini version (at that specific point) of baseball, though it wasn’t linked to baseball then. They all played the game with an end score of 41-40, now known as softball.
In the following spring, Hancock launched the game outdoors, but in a limited space, and in 1889, he helped establish rules for the game to reach far and wide.
He had Lewis Rober, a Fire Department lieutenant, help him reach the game to more people in Minneapolis. In 1895, Rober formed a Kittens team, which later changed to ‘Kitten Ball.’
3. How Did Softball Get Its Identity?
Until 1925, the name Kitten Ball ruled among the people when the Minneapolis Park Board gave it a new name Diamond Ball.
A few more names were given to it, like Mushball, Recreation Ball, Night Ball, and Indoor Ball, before it became Softball in 1926.
A Denver YMCA official, Walter Hakanson, proposed the name ‘softball,’ but it couldn’t be included in the International Joint Rules Committee before 1934 because of its less outreach.
With the efforts of Leo Fischer and Michael J. Pauley, a Chicago Sporting goods salesman, a tournament was organized in 1933 with the World’s Flair of Chicago to promote the game nationally, which brought several local teams together and 70,000 spectators.
This act made it possible for the Joint Rules Committee to include the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) in it in 1934. So, the formation of the ASA gave new heights to softball and assisted in making it a global team sport. Can you imagine there is so much to it before even thinking about how many innings in softball?
4. Why Is Softball Called ‘Softball’?
Before finding the answer to how many innings in softball, do we even know why it is called Softball? Erica Westly, a journalist for The New York Times and Slate, among others, shares in an interview about its history.
It dates back to its early history when the game first started playing with a glove, which was soft. These days, softballs are smaller and more complicated, keeping the original name softball.
5. Women’s Part in Softball
Although softball is equally being played by people of all ages and both females and males, only men continued to play till the tournament of 1934, in which both joined in.
However, women weren’t supposed to take it seriously as they were considered less fit to continue to the field game. In high schools and college levels, fewer women from the 1940s – to 1960s were allowed to play. Even the purpose of those games wasn’t to excel in the play but to have a fun get-together.
1969 was the year to hold the first Women’s College World Series in Omaha. Still, softball had a long way to go. After extended discrimination, a law ‘Title IX’ was passed in 1972 to restrict bias against women in academia, and the result was an increased number of women participants in schools.
USA softball represented its first softball team of women (Raybestos Brakettes) in the first-ever 1965 Women’s World Championship and gained silver.
6. Race to Olympics
USA Softball had its first share in the 1996 Olympic Games and secured Gold by 3-0 against China, and the winning game continued in the next two (2000 & 2004) Olympics, but it had to manage with Silver in 2008.
Unluckily, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced to remove both softball and baseball from the following two Olympics Games (2012 & 2016) on no account. However, they re-entered the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and would hopefully rejoin the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.
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When we’re talking about softball and baseball jointly, knowing a little about baseball would be helpful.
Baseball is the father of the earlier indoor game softball, involving two teams of nine players each and the same strategy of hitting and pitching the ball.
It’s considered harder in comparison to softball, so the name hardball. Though anyone can play baseball, most players are men, whereas women mostly perform in fast-pitch softball.
8. Softball vs. Baseball
Softball has been passed down to us from baseball, so clearly, both the games must be similar. Well, that’s true as well because both the games –
- They are played using a bat and ball.
- They are playing outside.
- Use a diamond-shaped field.
- Are international.
- Allow both men and women.
Apart from similarities, softball has its distinct identity. Major differences are:
- The yellow ball is used mainly in softball, while whites are used in baseball.
- Softball uses a giant ball, up to 12 inches than 9 inches in baseball.
- Metal bats are used in softball, whereas wooden bats are the norm in baseball.
- There’s also a difference in the distance from the home plate to the pitching circle. It’s 43 feet in softball and 60 feet in baseball.
- The distance between the bases in softball and baseball is 60 and 90 feet, respectively.
- Baseball games are played for nine innings in contrast to the seven innings in softball. However, the international fastpitch softball allows nine innings too.
- Softball pitches are delivered with an underhand motion, while baseball pitches are delivered overhand.
- Softball has two main variations; fast-pitch and slow-pitch. However, baseball has only one.
- Stealing is permitted in baseball but can’t be done in a fast-pitch game before the strike is made.
Now, let’s dive deeper into the game.
9. Equipment Used in The Game
A 16 inches ball in circumference is preferred in Chicago, where the game has its fame due.
For fast-pitch games and adults, it’s generally 12 inches in circumference and weighs between 6.25 and 7.0 oz. At the same time, it’s 11 inches in circumference for slow-pitch games and younger kids and weighs between 5.875 and 6.125 oz.
A yellow or sometimes white color ball (stitched with red thread) is used, which is made by the cork and rubber mixture and is usually more significant than the baseball.
A softball bat should be 86.4cm (34 in) long or less and 5.7cm (2 ¼ in) or less in diameter at its larger end. It should be 1077.0 g (38 ounces) or less in weight.
The material for bats can be aluminum, bamboo, or wood. Moreover, metal and curved bats from the end are preferred in softball.
Other equipment includes gloves worn by the defensive players (which can be different in size as per the position of the players), a uniform (shirt, cap, shoes, and pants/shorts), and other safety equipment like a helmet, face mask, and chest protector.
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The softball field has two parts, fair and foul territory. Infield and outfield (green area) consist of fair territory. The diamond-shaped infield is a dirt area with four bases: first, second, and third base, and home plate.
There were two foul lines extended to the outfield. One from home plate to first base and the other to third base. At the back of the home, the plate is a backstop.
The pitching rubber is at the center of the field within a pitching circle. This is a flat surface from where the pitching is initiated.
The distance between the bases is 60 feet in fast-pitch and 65 feet in slow-pitch games, and the distance between the home plate and pitching rubber is 50 feet in slow-pitch games and 43 feet in fast-pitch. Now that we know about the things needed to play let’s finally learn how many innings in softball.
10. Players and Their Positions
The softball field is set with nine players on the defensive team. Slow-pitch softball involves an extra outfielder, and a designated player can play in fast-pitch.
In the fair territory, players can be placed anywhere except pitcher (must pitch from the circle) and catcher (must be placed in the catcher’s box).
10.1. Positions on The Fielding Team
- Pitcher – The one who throws the bowl towards the batter through an underarm strike from the pitching circle.
- Designated player – An optional player used in the defensive team to bat in place of a pitcher or any other player.
- Catchers – Are responsible for striking a batter out and standing behind the home plate in a catcher’s box.
- First baseman – A defense fielding position to the left of the home plate.
- Second baseman – A position before second base.
- Shortstop – A position between the second and third base.
- Third baseman – A position to the right of home plate.
- Right fielder – A position to the left of the home-plate between first and second bases.
- Center fielder – A middle outfield position behind the second.
- Left fielder – A position to the right of the home plate behind third base.
- Short fielder – A different fielder position behind the second base adjusting with the center fielder’s position.
11. Softball Rules
- Each team consists of nine players and an extra in slow-pitch games.
- The game is played till the nine innings or seven or fewer innings in slow-pitch softball. Innings can be extended in case of a tie and reduced in recreational leagues when the home team (which bats in the bottom innings) is already winning before taking their turn at-bat in the seventh inning.
- The batting team aims to score more runs to take the lead, while the fielding team has to try to secure outs by throwing pitches and rigorous fielding.
- The pitcher shouldn’t bowl till all the fielders are in the fair territory except the catcher, who should be in the catcher’s box, and the pitcher’s feet should be on the pitcher’s rubber before a strike.
- A batter becomes a batter-runner when they hit the ball and attempt to run to the base.
- A runner must touch the bases in order (first, second, third, and then return to home plate).
12. How Many Innings in Softball?
So, finally, how many innings in softball? Generally, there are seven innings in a professional game, though less than seven can be the case in leagues for recreational purposes and senior citizens or children.
Being divided into two halves, the visiting team bats in the top half of the inning in the decided batting order, and the bottom half goes to the home team. Each team gets their chances to bat and pitch one by one.
The goal for the offensive team is to score runs, and the other team has to strike them out. One inning comprises each team batting and fielding in one round. Then the second inning starts, and it continues until the game ends.
Also, as per the official softball rules, innings can vary in a game for the following reasons:
- When a match is tied after seven innings, an extra inning is played.
- The home team is winning in the last inning before its batting after the turn of the visitor team. The umpire himself ends the game due to exceptional reasons such as weather or foul play.
- Due to the mercy rule, which ends the game before the seven innings in five or more when one team is ahead by eight or more runs.
12. How To Play Softball?
Now that we know how many innings in softball let us learn further. So, the field is set with all the fielders, pitchers, catchers, and batters. The guest team gets a chance to bat first, and the home team bats after them in two halves of an inning, or a toss can decide it.
After the umpire calls for ‘play ball,’ play starts when all the players assume their positions. So, at that time, a pitcher must be in his pitching circle with the ball ready, the batter must be in the batter’s box, and all other fielders in the fair territory.
The pitcher starts by making a delivery, and the batter swings at the ball over the outfield fence and reaches home plate by completing a whole round of the four bases to secure a run before getting out.
The batter can run one base at a time and advance others to reach the subsequent bases until they strike a home run which is possible when the ball crosses the outfield and the batter (then batter-runner) completes one round of the field.
At the same time, the opposing team tries to put them out by the following softball rules –
- By catching a fly ball.
- Tagging the batter-runner before they reach the base.
- Causing them to miss three strikes.
- Or by a force out or force play which happens when a fielder touches the exact base by holding the ball before a runner secures it.
The game is completed in seven innings where each inning is parted into two halves, for which both the teams take their rounds of batting and bowling. Extra innings are played in case of a tie match. The team which scores the highest runs wins.
13. Types of Softball Games
There are mainly two forms of softball that exist, namely fast-pitch and slow-pitch. Both genders can play both slow-pitch and fast-pitch games. However, fast-pitch games are played internationally, whereas local communities generally organize slow-pitch to spend leisurely time.
13.1. Fast-pitch softball
This form of softball requires nine players on the field, and bunting and stealing can be done only when the pitcher throws the ball. It requires the pitcher to use a fast windmill-like motion to throw the ball at 105 miles per hour for men and 77 miles per hour for women. It’s the form that’s played in the Olympics.
13.2. Slow-Pitch Softball
The pitcher uses a slow pitching motion to throw the ball in pitching. The field requires ten fielders, including an extra outfielder. Stealing and bunting aren’t allowed, and it’s only a seven innings game in contrast to the nine innings in fast-pitch.
14. Terminology of A Softball Game
- Offensive team – A team that bats.
- Defensive team – An opposite team on the field.
- Pitch – The act of throwing a ball or making a delivery.
- Play ball – A phrase to begin or resume the match by an umpire when the pitcher is within the pitcher’s circle or near the pitcher’s plate.
- Fly ball – A batted ball hit in the air.
- Inning – When both the teams complete their turn of playing, and each has three outs, it’s called an inning.
- Bunt – A ball that’s not hit by the batter but only touched by their bat intentionally to advance it at the front of the home plate within the infield area to let the base-runner reach the next base.
- Double play – When a fielding team successfully manages two strikes of the batting team in the same play, it’s called a double play.
- Stealing – An act of advancing to the next unoccupied base before the ball reaches it, on the pitcher’s release of the ball. A runner, not a batter, can only make it.
- Strikeout – When the bowler manages to get the batter out three times in an inning.
- Force Out – An out is recorded by the defense team when the batter hits the ball, and one of the defense fielders catches it to tag the runner before the runner runs to reach the next base safely.
- Tagging Up – Touching a base by base-runners before advancing to their next base after the ball is caught by a fielder holding the ball.
- Ball – A pitched ball or delivery missed by the hitter and crosses the strike zone.
- Walk – Four pitched balls by the pitcher lead to a walk where the batter is given the first base without striking any balls.
- Strike Zone – An area above the home plate lies between the hitter’s shoulders and knees when he assumes his position for a strike.
15.1. Who Are the Top Players in A Softball Game?
Lisa Fernandez, Jennie Finch, Dot Richardson, Jessica Mendoza, and Cat Osterman are the five top softball players.
15.2. Who Is the Fastest Female Pitcher?
From the Chicago Bandits, Monica Abbott achieved the speed of 77 mph in a National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) game against the Carolina Diamonds.
15.3. Who Is the Best Performing Softball Player in The Olympics?
With three Golds and silver, Laura Berg is the best softball performer in the Olympics.
15.4. What Is a Foul Ball?
A foul ball is a ball that lends itself to foul territory after being hit by the batter.
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Softball games and high school baseball games are scheduled for seven innings, as are some minor league baseball doubleheaders. Major League doubleheaders comprised scheduled 7 inning games during the 2020 and 2021 seasons due to the COVID pandemic, but returned to 9 innings in 2022.Why is softball 7 innings and baseball 9 innings? ›
Nine innings was chosen in 1857. No exact reasons were given, but nine seemed like a nice number since there nine players. Oddly, it wasn't until the 1870s that games ended when the team batting last had a lead in the bottom of the 9th.What does 7 innings mean in softball? ›
An inning is made up of two rounds, where both teams take a turn each to bat and field. Each half of the inning will not end till three outs occur. The home team will usually field first. At the end of all seven innings, if the score is tied, there will be extra innings played until a winner emerges.Does softball have 9 innings? ›
Rules of Softball
A game lasts for 7 innings and is split into two sections; the top and bottom of the innings. Each team bats once in each innings before the sides switch.
Games called by umpires that cannot be resumed within 1 hour will be considered an official game, if 5 innings have been completed, or 4 1/2 innings if the home team is ahead. After 5 complete innings, a tie score will be recorded a tie in pool play.Do you always play 9 innings? ›
In baseball, an official game (regulation game in the Major League Baseball rulebook) is a game where nine innings have been played, except when the game is scheduled with fewer innings, extra innings are required to determine a winner, or the game must be stopped before nine innings have been played, e.g. due to ...How long does a 7 inning softball game last? ›
On average a softball game will last anywhere between an hour to two hours. Most softball leagues play seven innings with each inning lasting around 18 minutes. In fast pitch softball most leagues games will last 7 innings or until a 75-minute time limit has expired.How long does 7 innings Take softball? ›
Softball games take less time than baseball games since they are seven innings long instead of nine. Seven innings of softball usually take around two hours. But, it is hard to predict exactly how long a softball game will last since there is no set time limit for each inning.Do they play 7 or 9 innings in college? ›
So, while most college baseball games will be 9 innings, some can be 7 innings or even 5 innings long.Is 7 innings a complete game? ›
Additionally, during the COVID shortened baseball season in 2020, doubleheaders (two baseball games played consecutively on the same day) were shortened to two 7 inning games for player safety. This temporary rule change allowed pitchers to record 7 inning complete games.
For softball, the rule is 12 after three innings and 10 after five. However, since the home team has the last at-bat, the rules usually allow visiting teams to score an unlimited number of runs in the top half of an inning.How many innings is a high school softball game? ›
Softball games at the high school, college, and Professional level are played in full seven inning games.Why do they play 9 innings? ›
Sensing that an official ruling was necessary as more and more baseball teams were formed, the Knickerbockers decided to form a committee in 1856 to tackle the issue. The desire for more competitive defense won out, and nine innings -- and nine men -- became the standard for good. Why 162 games?Does softball only play 7 innings? ›
Softball games have either 6 or 7 innings, depending on the level of the teams competing. At the level of college softball, for example, this number is almost always 7 innings. Youth softball, on the other hand, can have as low as 6 innings instead.What is the 10 rule in softball? ›
A team may not bat more than 10 batters for any one inning, regardless of the number of outs, except for the last inning. This limit applies to every division but Colt, in the Colt division there is no limit to the number of runs that can be scored in any one inning.What is considered a perfect game in softball? ›
It's a rare feat in baseball or softball to pitch a "perfect game." That happens when no opponent reaches base — not by a hit, or a fielding error, or a walk.Do you have to pitch 9 innings for a perfect game? ›
Major League Baseball The current Major League Baseball definition, since 1991, of a no-hitter is "a game in which a pitcher, or pitchers, gives up no hits while pitching at least nine innings. A pitcher may give up a run or runs so long as he pitches nine innings or more and does not give up a hit."How many innings is a perfect game? ›
Games called by umpires that can not be resumed within 1 hour will be considered an official game, if 5 innings have been completed, or 4 1/2 innings if the home team is ahead. After 5 complete innings, a tie score will be recorded a tie in pool play.Do pitchers ever pitch all 9 innings? ›
That's a true rarity these days, indeed. The Major Leagues used to see starters record outs past the ninth inning upwards of 150 times per season in the 1910s, and it still happened between 40 and 50 times in several years during the 1980s.Is 8 innings a complete game? ›
While a complete game usually lasts nine innings, its length can differ under the following conditions: If the pitcher is playing for the visiting team, and it is trailing after taking its turn at bat in the ninth inning, the pitcher is credited with an eight-inning complete game loss.
4-2-2 The game ends when the team behind in score has completed its turn at bat in the seventh inning, or any inning thereafter if extra innings are necessary. If the home team scores a go-ahead run in the bottom of the seventh inning, or in any extra inning, the game is terminated at that point.How long is the average 7 inning game? ›
High school baseball games are seven innings long and usually take around two hours to complete. As opposed to nine inning games in both college and professional baseball, high school teams play for seven innings, primarily to reduce fatigue for younger players.How long does a 9 inning softball game last? ›
If a game goes into the extra-inning after seven innings, a runner starts on second base to help speed up the game's conclusion. On average, a professional softball game will take about 2 hours or less to complete. For more amateur leagues, you can expect softball games to be less than an hour and 45 minutes.What is the 5 inning rule in softball? ›
Run Rule: If any team is ahead by twenty (20) runs after three (3) complete innings, fifteen (15) runs after four (4) innings, ten (10) runs after five (5) complete innings then the game will be considered complete. The run rule will apply to all championship games.Do pitchers pitch 7 innings? ›
Pitchers with the game's best P/IP rate typically average fewer than 15 pitches per inning. A starting pitcher with those numbers would be able to go seven innings on fewer than 105 pitches.How many innings do you have to pitch to get a win in a 7 inning game? ›
For all games of fewer than eight innings, the starting pitcher must pitch at least four innings to get credit for the win.Why does college softball only play 7 innings? ›
Due to the mercy rule, which ends the game before the seven innings in five or more when one team is ahead by eight or more runs.Do they play 9 innings in college? ›
One or both ends of a doubleheader are sometimes seven innings in length. However, the NCAA has recently tightened the interpretation of what constitutes a regulation game, encouraging schools to play as many nine-inning games as possible.Are college games 7 innings? ›
Seven-inning games are allowed if (A) it's the final day of an intra-conference series or (B) two teams (in a non-conference match) have a scheduled double header. Because these certain circumstances are fairly uncommon, an overwhelming majority of games in college last the full nine innings.Are there 7 innings in softball? ›
Softball games take less time than baseball games since they are seven innings long instead of nine. Seven innings of softball usually take around two hours. But, it is hard to predict exactly how long a softball game will last since there is no set time limit for each inning.
If not terminated early, regulation games last until the trailing team has had the chance to make 27 outs (nine innings). If the home team is leading after the visiting team has made three outs in the top of the ninth inning, the home team wins and does not have to come to bat in the bottom of the ninth.How many innings is there in softball? ›
There it is, the answer to the question. Seven innings are played in a full-length softball game. It's baffling to me when I ask kids how many innings are in a softball game; the sport they play, and their answer is something less than seven.Does college play 7 or 9 innings? ›
So, while most college baseball games will be 9 innings, some can be 7 innings or even 5 innings long.How long is a softball game with 7 innings? ›
Length of a Softball Game
Given that the game has 7 innings, the game usually lasts for 2 hours. But, it's also possible that the game lasts longer or shorter than that period, which is dependent on how many innings there are in the game.
Rules for pitcher feats in 7-inning twin bills
A starting pitcher is still in line for the win if he goes at least five innings and his team has the lead when he departs (and keeps the lead after he departs). And if a starter goes all seven innings without allowing a run, he will still get credited with a shutout.
Right Fielder – Position #9 on the Field. Right fielders are most commonly known for their very strong arms.Can a baseball game end after 7 innings? ›
8. The ten run rule ends games early. This rule does not exist for Major League Baseball. In all other levels of baseball, a rule is in place that says if a team is up by ten runs after seven innings of a nine-inning game (or six-and-a-half innings if the home team is ahead), the game can be called.Is a perfect game 9 innings? ›
A perfect game in baseball happens when a pitcher gets every opposing batter out without anyone reaching base the entire game. Over a 9-inning game, each team gets three outs per inning for a total of 27 outs.Can a pitcher play 9 innings? ›
But a starting pitcher going the distance ... and then some? That's a true rarity these days, indeed. The Major Leagues used to see starters record outs past the ninth inning upwards of 150 times per season in the 1910s, and it still happened between 40 and 50 times in several years during the 1980s.