Softball games last 1-2 hours, but the game’s base is 20 minutes. In this case, each inning lasts for 5 minutes. The first inning lasts for 20 minutes, and the second one lasts for 10 minutes. The third one lasts for 6 minutes, and so on.

There is no time limit in softball, like in basketball or football. This is primarily because you have a goal to accomplish to win, and much like tennis, it could go on for many innings. There are also no quarters or halves in softball.

The main difference between softball and baseball is that baseball has nine innings, whereas softball has only 7.

The skill level of the players also needs to be factored in to determine how long will a softball match go on.

  1. 14U softball games have a maximum length of 70 minutes or five innings - whichever comes first. Games are generally stopped regardless of the score after this point.
  2. High school softball games follow the exact durations as college softball games - 1.45 to 2 hours. Many matches have maximum time limits of 1 hour and 45 minutes.
  3. Middle-school softball games tend to last six innings on average. Curfews and time limits affect how long the game will go on.
  4. College softball matches tend to last around a couple of hours. If the score is tied, the game can have more than seven innings until one of the teams wins.

An average softball game has seven innings - but the rules permit any number of innings between 3 and 7.

A softball field with a ball in the middle.

Time limits in softball tournaments

Softball games can easily reach up to 3 hours, depending on the age and skill of the players and how many games are being played. Many tournaments also have a 4-hour time limit for each game, so you can expect to play about 2-3 games in a tournament.

The time it takes to play an inning depends on the number of outs and players on each team.

There are two ways to count innings:

  1. Inning-by-inning: Counts each batter and how long they stay on base. For example, if there are two outs, the inning is over after six pitches.
  2. Game-by-game: Counts each player in the game and how long they stay on base. For example, the game ends after nine pitches if there are three outs.

The longest softball game

Creighton and Utah Softball took 6+ hours to finish a game back in 1991! Creighton ended up winning that particular match (but Utah won the conference champion crown in the next game, which was another 25 innings!). This is the longest softball game in US NCAA history.

But that record dwarfs in comparison to the longest softball game in the world - which was played in Alberta, Canada.

Team Stollery vs. Team Cross was a softball game with 721 innings and an 876-766 score (Stollery won). That game ran for 115 hours and 3 minutes on July 5, 2009, and is registered in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest marathon playing softball.

The best part? This game raised $90,000 for the Stollery Children’s Hospital and the Cross Cancer Institute.

Wrapping up

In most cases, softball games last anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours. However, they can last for longer or shorter under different circumstances. A game of softball generally adheres to a 1 hour 45 minutes limit. Also, it’s rare for matches to go beyond seven innings.

Intrasquad matches are usually played in doubleheaders on Saturdays or Sundays, but other options include Friday night and weekday games.

The home team bats first in softball games and are also generally the team that scores the most runs during the game. Each inning ends when one team has scored more than four runs over the other.

If no more innings are left after fifteen minutes of play, then a new inning begins with a new pitcher (or catchers) for each team who will throw at least one ball until one team scores twice. This is called the inning-break rule because it breaks up play for fifteen minutes so players can return to their dugouts for refreshments and rest between innings.

Interestingly, games can be shortened, especially in college softball. This happens mainly because of travel requirements. Visiting teams might need to board commercial flights so that students don’t miss their classes on Monday, which can cause the game to end abruptly.

This won’t happen unless the umpires and both teams agree, however.

Lastly, some local rules might also be put in place, where the number of innings can be unconventionally higher or lower than average.