To understand college softball games in a more descriptive and definite manner, one can say; college softball game is a game of ball played between two collegiate teams at an intercollegiate level at institutions of higher education. This game is primarily played in the United States of America. Each team consists of nine players. College softball games are predominantly played by women, but it is played by people of all ages and genders. Softball as a sport was developed by a group of some boys, who decided to play a modified version of baseball with broomsticks. College softball gained its popularity in 1910 when the rules for this amateur broomstick game were finalized. This sport became a sport of attraction for all young women around the United States of America.
Softball was sanctioned as a sport by the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) in 1910. The intercollegiate softball games are controlled by either the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) or the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The championship finals for the college softball intercollegiate games were held at Omaha, Nebraska, for the year 1982-1987. Then for 2 years, it was held in Sunnyvale California. Lastly finalizing the Hall of Fame Field in Oklahoma City since 1990 as the ultimate field place for the college softball intercollegiate games.
Softball is designated and also a sport of attention for women and it is completely designated to women for the softball intercollegiate games. The intercollegiate softball championship started with 32 teams that come from 8 different regions for competing in a double-elimination, round-robin tournament to decide the national softball champion team. The tournament now starts with 64 teams that come from 16 different regions that compete in a double-elimination round.
The NCAA is the major governing body for intercollegiate athletics. More than 600 NCAA colleges sponsor women’s softball intercollegiate games. Under NCAA, there are three divisions for participating schools, and sport accordingly is divided like;
- Division I (Consists largest Schools and Universities as members and have the budget and highest level of competition.)
- Division II (Consists smaller sized Schools and Universities as members and a medium budget, and a lower level of competition as compared to Division I schools)
- Division III (Consists smallest sized Schools and Universities as members, have lowest level of competition and also tend to have lowest competition.)
Though softball and baseball are similar and are played by all collegiates, softball is designated to women and baseball to men for intercollegiate athletics. Baseball evolved from the British game rounders, which are played by both girls and boys. Softball was invented by men but it came to be seen as an easier, safer, and modest game, thus making it more suitable for young girls and ladies. Thus women’s softball intercollegiate games came into existence and are dedicated and designated to women since then.
Coming to the question on which the article is based as to “How many innings are there in a college softball game? “. The answer to that question is 7 innings.
First to understand what are innings here is a descriptive explanation of that. An inning is the basic unit of play, consisting of two halves, namely the “top” (first half of the game) and the “bottom” (second half of the game). In each half, one team bats until three outs, and the second team plays the defense.
The NCAA, which is the major governing body for intercollegiate athletics decided to have seven innings for softball and nine innings for baseball intercollegiate games as often as possible. Some exceptions to the nine innings college baseball intercollegiate games are made. But softball games are a seven-inning game for women for the softball intercollegiate games. Some possible exceptions to the nine innings baseball intercollegiate games can also be the same exceptions for softball games shortening their lengths are as below :
- If the teams are playing a non-conference match, or if it is the last day of the intra-conference series then the game is shortened to 5 innings.
- Games are also shortened due to the “Mercy Rule”.
But in the current scenarios, a standard intercollegiate softball game consists of a total team’s play of seven innings. Typically the visiting team bats first. The intercollegiate softball games are typically two hours in length, but with varying circumstances, the games can be longer or shorter in length. The game totally depends upon the number of innings in the game. A usual intercollegiate softball game has seven innings, but the rules allow modifications, thus shortening the game anywhere between three to seven innings, and lengthening the innings in the case of a tie score.
If the teams are playing a seven-inning game and one team is winning by 10 or more runs by the end of the fifth inning, then the game can be called off immediately. So while most of the intercollegiate softball games will be seven innings, some can be five innings long. In a regular season-conference game, there are seven innings, and that is definite for the intercollegiate softball games. Some other possible reasons for a short game below seven innings can be because of the weather, darkness, injuries, or similar conditions.
What is the mercy rule in softball?
Let us know more about the mercy rule in softball due to which the length of the softball game can be shortened. Mercy rule is also known as the “run rule” by the International Softball Federation. It states that a game is finished if one team is ahead by 20 runs after 3 innings, 15 runs after four innings, or 7 runs after five innings.