Take a look at this year's final rankings, and you'll see that the college softball landscape is painted with team colors from the corners of the continental United States. Five of the top 10 teams represent the Pac-10, and three hail from the Southeastern Conference. Enter the University of Missouri to spoil all the regional fun.
In a game where pitching rules, Mizzou was like a high hard one followed by a nasty slider. The Tigers compiled a 50-12 record en route to their highest-ever end-of-the-season ranking (8th).
Head coach Ehren Earleywine has molded a talented group of predominantly homegrown players, mixed with a few out-of-staters, into a top contender. Here, the 2007 Big 12 Coach of the Year, arguably one of the top recruiters in the nation, throws down eight tips for getting your name in the game during the recruiting process.
Reach out to the coach
We get so many e-mails and so many videotapes. There's just so much accessibility to coaches with the Internet that we get requests from kids across the country to come watch them.
Catch on with a travel team
That's where you develop. That's where you're going to play the best competition, [and] that's where the better coaches are. If you can find a way to talk one of those travel ball coaches into letting you on the team, and trying to learn through development and watching other good players and playing against better competition, I think that's step number one.
Come to play
Every weekend, we send two coaches out, and they go to these big exposure tournaments. One of our policies is that we're never going to sign a kid unless we've thoroughly seen them play. We're not going to do it [based] on hearsay or what we saw on a videotape or by a statistical chart. We're going to physically go watch these kids and pick out [those who] fit what we're looking for.
Work the in-state schools
We like to try to get the best kids in our state. We feel like those kids grew up loyal to the university, and they play harder because it means something to them when we play an archrival or a conference opponent.
Use what your mama gave ya
We look for kids who have those God-given abilities. In terms of size and body, you just look for kids who have . . . good physiques and good genetics.
Showcase your strongest skill set
I don't like a kid who's just fast for softball. I'm looking for [athletes] who have track speed, kids who can fly. I don't want you to have a little bit of power if I'm recruiting you as a power hitter. I want you to hit 15 to 20 home runs.
Flexibility with scholarship opportunities
A lot of kids have this expectation that [they're] going to get a full ride, [but] it's just not the case in most instances. Most kids are getting partial scholarships. It's very hard to get a full ride, and I think kids should understand the reality of that.
Expand your athleticism
The athletes in our game have certainly gotten better [compared to] 10 years ago. I just hope that trend continues. I think the more our sport transitions from the stocky, strong, slow softball player into the athletic, agile kid, I think the better we'll get overall.
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