In softball, nine fielding players take part: the left fielder, centre fielder, right fielder, the pitcher, catcher, first baseman, second baseman, third baseman and shortstop. In each innings, every team bats until three batters have been put out.
Teams take turns batting. The home team usually bats second. In the event of a tie or after seven innings, extra innings are usually played until the tie is broken.
The pitcher stands at the pitching plate and attempts to throw the ball past the batter to the catcher behind home plate. The throw, or pitch, must be made with an underarm motion: the ball must be released below the hip when the hand is no farther from the hip than the elbow.
The pitcher tries to throw the ball so that it passes through the strike zone. The batter gets three chances to hit the ball legally.
Once the ball is hit, the runner must try to advance to first base or beyond.
When a ball is pitched outside the strike zone and the batter does not attempt to hit it, a 'ball' is called. Even if the batter does not hit the ball, she will 'walk' to first base if four balls are called.
The batter is out when: three strikes are called (a strikeout); a ball hit by the batter is caught before touching the ground (a flyout); the base runner is touched by the ball or by a glove holding the ball while the base runner is away from a base (tagged); and when a fielder holding the ball touches a base which is the only base towards which the batter may run before the batter arrives there (a force out or forced play).
After hitting the ball, the batter will attempt to reach as many bases as possible. An advance to first base on the one hit is a single, to second base is a double, to third base is a triple, and to home plate is a home run.
A run is scored when a player has touched all four bases in order, proceeding counter-clockwise around them. They need not be touched on the same play; a batter may remain safely on a base while play proceeds and attempt to advance on a later play.
When a batter hits the ball over the outside fence, it is called 'home run' and all runners in bases at the time of the hit, as well as the batter, will run around the bases until the home plate and score a run each.
The team with the most runs after seven innings wins the game. If the game is tied, play usually continues until a decision is reached.