College Softball Scholarships & Recruiting Information

Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson we explore the world of collegiate softball and the potential for gaining a scholarship in the sport. Additionally, we discuss a few tips and tricks to help gain a coach's eye and earn a scholarship.

Softball

Whether it is young girls just learning how to play, or old men using it to stay healthy, softball is a fun sport enjoyed by all ages. At its most competitive level, however, softball is strictly a women's sport.

This includes both high school and collegiate athletics. Young women who excel in high school might even be able to use their softball prowess to help pay for their education.

This lesson will provide detailed info and a few tips on the scholarship and recruiting process in softball.

Scholarships

Softball is a popular sport, both in high school and college. In fact, more than 1,000 schools field teams and compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Nearly another 200 institutions compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), and roughly 350 compete at the junior college level in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).

Though this is a great number of schools compared to other sports, not all of these schools offer scholarships. Indeed, the amount of scholarships provided to student-athletes depends on which division a school participates in:

  • NCAA Division I: 12 total scholarships (sum of partial and full scholarships)
  • NCAA Division II: 7.2 total scholarships (sum of partial and full scholarships)
  • NCAA Division III: 0 scholarships
  • NAIA: 10 total scholarships (sum of partial and full scholarships)
  • NJCAA: 24 total scholarships (sum of partial and full scholarships)

Now, of course, this does not mean that teams in NCAA Division II have only seven players. Softball is an equivalency sport in the NCAA, meaning softball coaches can divide scholarships any way they please. With the average softball team fielding team sizes in the high teens or low twenties, it is possible that if you get a softball scholarship you may only get a half-scholarship or less. This means you will have to find a way to pay for the rest of your education.

So, just from the amount of scholarships on offer you may think the NJCAA is your best bet, but there is one hitch to that plan: most junior colleges are only two-year programs. They often provide a stepping stone for students who had difficulty in high school to prepare for a more fulsome education at a larger, four-year institution. So even if it may be easier to gain a scholarship, you probably won't be able to stay there for four years or potentially even get the degree you want to pursue.

Make Contact

While softball is a popular sport and one which has a relatively high profile, it is not football or basketball. In fact, most softball teams do not attract enough spectators to pay for the team's travel and playing expenses. This means many softball coaches have smaller budgets than other, higher profile sports when it comes to tracking recruits and going on scouting trips.

This means most softball players who want to gain an athletic scholarship need to make first contact with prospective college coaches. This can be achieved by simply cold-calling the athletic department, though a better route may be going through your high school or club team coaches. They will likely have contacts at the collegiate level; a recommendation from them will have a better chance at getting you onto a coach's radar.

Know Your Positions & Skills

If you only know how to play one position, learn more. Versatile players are more likely to get recruited than players who can only play one position. If you are used to playing the infield, ask your coaches if you can get some work in practice and in games in the outfield. If you are normally a power hitter, experiment with slap hitting and other hitting styles to improve your game.

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