When you watch a game on TV, you might know that it happens only for a limited time. So, what decides the duration of a game? This is where innings come into the picture. Be it softball or baseball, players play a designated number of innings before ending. Before you tune your television to watch a softball league, you need to know the number of innings in it.
A softball game has seven innings but can be shorter if a mercy rule is in place. Youth softball is an exception as it has six innings. Every inning in a softball game is classified into top and bottom halves where home and away teams reverse their turns.
While the concept of an inning is the same in softball like every other game, the rules significantly change. Let us look at some popular records and differences in innings in each competitive league.
- Innings In Softball Explained
- How Many Innings In College Softball?
- How Many Innings In High School Softball?
- How Many Innings In Youth Softball?
- How Long Is An Inning In Softball?
- How Long Do Softball Games Last?
- Does Softball Have Extra Innings?
- Innings: Baseball vs. Softball
- How Does Mercy Rule In Softball Work?
- Popular Innings Records In Softball
- My Favorite Softball Equipment
Innings In Softball Explained
Most softball games (except youth level) have seven innings. During the top half of an inning, the home team stays on the field and records three outs, whereas the away team bats in this period.
In the bottom half of an inning, the role reversal happens. Various professional softball leagues, including college and school levels, follow the tradition of seven innings. However, youth-level softball happens only for six innings.
Now you might wonder about the top and bottom splits in a seven-inning game! Every team gets an opportunity to bat seven times and then remain on the field for the remaining seven games.
The only exception is that the game ends at that point when the home team records a victory in the last inning. This is especially when the visiting team has played first.
Another potential exception is the application of a mercy rule. We will look at this rule at a later stage in this article.
How Many Innings In College Softball?
There are seven innings in NCAA college-level softball. These are subjected to changes based on tie scores, eight-run rules, and the halt of the game.
Every college softball game includes seven innings divided into the top half and bottom half. The NCAA has listed various conditions when innings can change, and these are as follows:
- The game increases by an inning when two teams end up in a tie. This can extend the time but enables the league to determine the winning team.
- When the umpire halts the game for a genuine reason, the game stops at that point, and this approach reduces the number of innings.
- When an eight-run rule is applied or when the home team is on the verge of winning, the game’s duration reduces further.
The tie is a common situation when the game extends. However, it is also the right of the umpire to call off a game due to unforeseen circumstances. In such instances, the game is temporarily paused and scheduled at a later date.
Here’s a fact if you want to know more about a college softball game.
The longest college softball game included 31 innings and was between Utah and Creighton on 11th May 1991. This is officially the longest as of 2011.
How Many Innings In High School Softball?
A high school softball game includes seven innings. The game extends with additional innings when it ends with a tie.
A high school softball game has rules and exceptions similar to the college level. However, as this is the start of a softball career, it is also the time when girls and boys engage in high school softball games to identify their skills.
How Many Innings In Youth Softball?
A youth softball game has six innings. Based on the player’s age, the inning extends further.
Players in their elementary levels take part in youth softball games, and these games comprise six innings. When players have significant potential, the inning count increases by one.
Generally, players remain at practice levels and learn the fundamentals of the game. Once they learn and get accustomed to various softball techniques, they enter subsequent levels. For example, players aged 9-11 years have the opportunity to play longer innings. This is based on their experience and endurance.
When they get older, they enter high school softball games where they play seven innings on average. When there are chances for a tie, they also play additional innings.
How Long Is An Inning In Softball?
Every inning in softball takes about 15-20 minutes. A fastpitch game contains seven innings and extends to 2 hours of play.
Every inning in softball comprises two rounds – one for home and one for the away team. Teams play half-inning till three outs are recorded. Perhaps, home and away teams should record three outs individually.
While 20 minutes is the average time to complete an inning, it can often vary based on weather conditions, player experiences, and other team-related aspects. It can also differ according to the number of hits and pitches targeted by teams.
So, has a softball inning ever quickened? The fastest game included three pitches, and every pitch ended in a hit and recorded an out. As a result, one team wins, and the umpire calls off the game as it gives no chance to the opponent to continue further.
Here is more to these innings. A softball game lasts for 3-7 innings. However, an inning ends when both teams have taken their batting turns and recorded three outs. When the game ends in a tie in the last inning, there is a tiebreaker rule, and the umpire makes the necessary decision.
Youth softball games comprise six innings, and the game ends in 1 hour and 40 minutes (100 minutes). This means an inning lasts for 16-18 minutes.
What about softball games at other levels? A college softball game contains seven innings and lasts for 1.5 hours (90 minutes) on average. This also implies that an inning lasts for 12-13 minutes.
How Long Do Softball Games Last?
A softball game lasts between 1.5 and 2 hours based on the level and number of innings. Youth softball games incur 1 hour 40 minutes while college softball games last 1 hour 30 minutes.
NYS has added flexibility to time limits for youth softball games as the age group of players is lesser. As players learn the sport during childhood, most innings in youth softball games are short.
A typical professional softball game consumes about 15 minutes for an inning. Some games get over quicker than estimated when both teams have already batted and recorded three outs.
The duration is subjected to change if the game has ended in a tie.
To learn more in-depth about the length of softball games, check out my comprehensive article about how long softball games last.
Does Softball Have Extra Innings?
Softball has extra innings when the match ends in a tie. The longest softball game on records included 31 innings (played in 1991).
Extra innings function similar to regular innings. Teams reverse their roles when three outs are recorded by one set.
The only difference is that the last person that got out in the previous inning will start playing in the additional inning. In other words, the runner present on the second base kickstarts additional innings. The purpose behind engaging a second baserunner to start the extra inning is to speed up the process and also make the decision on the winner. Otherwise, the game can keep extending for long periods.
Although softball games have only seven innings, ties do not have upper limits. The umpire has the right to extend any number of innings until a winner is declared.
Innings: Baseball vs. Softball
Baseball has nine innings, while softball has seven innings. Otherwise, both sports divide each inning into two – top and bottom halves where home and away teams reverse their roles.
Another difference between these sports concerning innings is the pace. Softball progresses faster than baseball as fielders are close and the field size is comparatively smaller.
The field size in softball is 60 feet, which is smaller than the typical baseball field size and extends to 90 feet to reach every base. These are infield dimensions.
Let us look at outfield dimensions. Hitting a home run incurs a minimum of 220 feet in softball. However, the outfield in baseball is 300 feet.
Both sports differ in approaches and equipment. One common example is the pitching style. Baseball and softball follow overhand and underhand pitching styles. However, they do have similarities. This is why several fans (enjoying multiple sports) get confused with softball and baseball.
How Does Mercy Rule In Softball Work?
Mercy rules are common in college softball games and represent the end of a game when a team recorded a minimum of eight runs after five innings.
The mercy rule is also called an eight-run rule. Umpires in high school softball games also use the mercy rule. The umpire applies the mercy rule when a team has scored 20 runs continuously after three.
If the umpire wishes to extend the game’s duration, a cap can be added to the run scores.
Popular Innings Records In Softball
The most popular and longest softball game extended to 31 innings and was played for nearly 7 hours.
1: Longest Innings (NCAA)
Let us begin with NCAA’s most popular record involving Utah and Creighton teams.
Creighton and Utah began their game on 11th May 1991 around 6 p.m. It was an elimination game. However, teams got crazier and continued playing. The innings extended, and at 12:25 a.m. on the next day (12th May 1991), the game ended.
The first game between Utah and Creighton incurred about 12 minutes for each inning. The interesting part about this game is that the second part incurred about 25 innings. Altogether, Creighton won the game, and the umpire announced the result after a tough competition between the two that lasted for 12 hours.
2: Longest Softball Marathon
On 5th July 2009, Team Stollery and Team Cross played in Alberta, Canada. The game made a Guinness World Record and was declared the longest softball game lasting for 115 hours and 3 minutes.
Team Stollery won the battle. The game was played between 30th June and 5th July 2009. This game included 721 innings and engaged over 40 men to complete the match. As this was a fundraising attempt, it also fetched over $90,000 that was donated to two medical institutions – Cross Cancer Institute and Stollery Children’s Hospital.
3: Longest Softball Game (College Level)
The longest softball game at the college level was recorded in 1984 when Cal Poly Pomona and Texas A&M competed at the Women’s College World Series. Both teams played 22.5 innings, and the umpire called the game off due to unforeseen weather conditions.
After a day’s halt when the downpour ended, both teams played the remaining 2.5 innings. As a result, Texas A&M won the game against Cal Poly Pomona.
4: 7 hits in 7 innings
Achieving one hit in every inning is a complicated task. Michelle LaFornara and Krys Bondarenko recorded one hit in each inning on 1st May 1985 and 19th March 1995, respectively.
Bondarenko made the significant team and individual records. On the other hand, LaFornara recorded a home run, a triple, and two doubles. The combination of base hits enhanced his recognition in the game.
5: Highest scoreless innings
Danielle Henderson is well-known for achieving 105 consecutive scoreless innings. This stat means 15 full games of softball with no runs allowed. Danielle has made a massive feat in a short span between 16 March 1999 and 2 May 1999.
NCAA also highlights other popular records made by softball players concerning innings. Here is the list:
- The perfect seven-inning, 21-strikeout game by Hope Trautwein (as of April 2021)
- 60 consecutive wins by Jennie Finch (recorded in almost two years – 2000-2002)
- 219 error-free games of Nicole Barber (2001-04)
- 25 career no-hitters of Michele Granger (1989-93)
- Hitting streak for 43 games by Sara Graziano (1993-94)
My Favorite Softball Equipment
Thanks for reading this article. I hope it brought you great value that you can implement into your own life! Here are my top softball equipment recommendations that I think will take your game to the next level.
- Bat: My favorite certified fastpitch softball bat is the Easton Ghost. This bat has a double-barrel construction which is incredible if you are looking for a great feel and are a fan of satisfying pop and sound. The handle is a great bonus as it’s great to hold on to and very thin. The technology used for this bat provides great durability and flexibility. This bat comes in various styles and sizes.
- Softball: The best softballs, in my opinion, are the Franklin Sports Official Softballs. These affordable yet official featured balls are perfect for practice if you want to train with a similar ball as in a real game. These balls have the official 12-inch circumference and weight. The yellow color makes it easy to spot, and the flat seams enable minimal air resistance so that they will fly consistently and far.
- Glove: Rawlings Liberty Advanced Fastpitch Glove should be introduced to every softball player. The 12.5″ size makes it a breeze to catch and secure softballs. The glove is very comfortable as it’s made from full-grain leather, and the pull-staps will perfect the fit. The design is breathtaking as well. Be prepared for a little break-in time tho.
- Fan Equipment: If you’re a fan more than a player, you don’t want to miss Fan Equipment by Fanatics. You can find items from various sports that bear your favorite team’s logo, such as jerseys, gift ideas, or other surprising things.