What You Need to Know About Softball Recruiting

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We're not here to burst your bubble, but if you're a softball player looking for a "full ride" to play in college, you'd better stop at the STACK station and fill up on scholarship information.

Scholarship Breakdown
"It's very hard to get a full ride," says University of Missouri head coach Ehren Earleywine. "Players need to understand the reality of that."

Most Division I programs are allowed 12 full scholarships, and since softball is not a headcount sport—meaning there is no set number of full scholarships—coaches can divvy up those 12 scholarships any way they want to fill the roster. "We have several players who are getting five, 10 and 15 percent scholarships, some on 40 to 50 percent, and then just a handful are 80 percent to a full ride," Earleywine says.

So who are the winners of the scholarship allocation? Well, pitchers certainly aren't scratching for money.

According to Earleywine, the pecking order starts with the pitching game, then moves around the horn from third to first in the infield. First basemen aren't withdrawing much money from the scholarship bank, because "virtually anybody can play first base," Earleywine says. "Scholarships for outfielders seem to be lower than most positions, because coaches feel there are plenty of outfielders out there, and it's not a skill position."

Scholarship allocation also depends on what positions a team needs to fill. "If we just signed a catcher over the past two classes, there's a good chance we're not going to sign a catcher for that third year," says Scot Thomas, head coach at Virginia Tech. "You've got to have that need."

Transfer Players
Tracking down scholarship money is even more difficult if you're on the outside looking in, as are players hoping to transfer to a D-I school. That's because most, if not all, D-I teams have already made their scholarship decisions for the incoming recruiting class, and often even the class after that.

"I think what transfer kids have to do is bite the bullet, because to play at a better school, they have to do it for less money, or maybe no money," Earleywine says.

If you're looking to transfer and come across a school that can offer a scholarship, don't act too fast. "That tells me one thing," Earleywine says. "They haven't filled their current scholarships. If a program has money lying around, what does that say about their recruiting efforts?"

The Trend
"There's a lot of parity in college softball right now," says John Rittman, head coach at Stanford University. As the playing field levels out, more and more coaches are starting to recruit earlier in the process, meaning the heat is on to receive verbal commitments.

"It's just the lay of the land nowadays," Thomas says. "The fall and spring of their junior year is when we start receiving commitments. Generally all commitments are done before July 1."

Key 2009-2010 Softball Recruiting Dates
August 1 – November 25, 2009: Contact Period
Except November 9 – 12: Dead Period
November 26, 2009 – January 1, 2010: Quiet Period
Except December 9 – 13: Dead Period
January 2 – July 31, 2010: Contact Period
Except April 12 – 15 and June 1 – 10: Dead Period

Definitions of periods, per NCAA rules
Contact Period: A college coach may make in-person contact with you and/or your parents on or off the college's campus. The coach may also watch you play or visit your school. You and your parents may visit a college campus, and the coach may write and call you.

Dead Period: A college coach may not have any in-person contact with you or your parents on or off campus, at any time. However, the coach may write and call you or your parents.

Quiet Period: A college coach may not make any in-person contact with you or your parents off the college's campus. The coach may not watch you play or visit your high school. You and your parents can visit a college campus. A coach can write or call you or your parents.

Closing Thought
Rittman: "There are different levels of softball for everybody. There's more than just D-I softball, and I think that's great for our sport. It's given a lot of young women an opportunity to continue their education and play a great sport in college."

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock