National interest in college baseball has steadily increased since the College World Series was first broadcast by ESPN in 1980, allowing increasing numbers of fans to be introduced to this incredible sport. At this event, which is played every June in Omaha, Neb., that year's best baseball college is presented with the national championship trophy. In fact, ESPN's broadcast of the NCAA baseball championship game in 2019 outdrew every MLB game that the network had broadcast up to that point that season.
The NCAA has been overseeing every baseball college that is under its jurisdiction since the first College World Series was held in 1947 in Kalamazoo, Mich. It also organizes the rulebook that every baseball college plays under and handles national tournaments for three baseball divisions: D1 baseball, D2 baseball and D3 baseball. The NCAA selects and seeds teams for these events and awards hosting duties. It also ensures that schools follow the regulations for things such as scholarships, broadcasts and event management. The NAIA has similar oversight over every baseball college that is a member of this nationwide organization.
The best baseball college?
Which baseball college is the best in the big picture? It depends on what you're looking for in a school. Although your team experiencing athletic success is great, you need to also account for the quality of the coaching, the culture of the team and the university and the school's academic offerings. Does your personality fit in? Will you grow there? Will you meet your potential? You need to account for the big picture, which results in this being a very individual decision.
One resource that you can use is the NCSA Power Rankings. When considering on-field success, in-the-classroom success and which schools are the favorites of prospective student-athletes, North Carolina comes out as the best baseball college. Here's a complete list of the top 10:
- North Carolina
- Georgia Tech
Also consider other rankings of the best baseball colleges. One useful set of college baseball rankings is courtesy of D1Baseball.com: Top 100 Programs: By the Numbers. It considers many of the same factors that NCSA's does as well as things like coaching staff quality, facilities and recruiting proficiency. Unsurprisingly, Vanderbilt, the winner of the 2019 college baseball championship, tops this list. Another option is Sportscasting.com's list of the best baseball colleges as far as their entire programs go. LSU tops that list.
College baseball scholarships
Amongst the 298 D1 baseball schools, the vast majority offer scholarships. In many cases, this is the maximum 11.7, which are split amongst up to 27 players. This comes out to less than half a scholarship per player. Relatively few NCAA baseball players receive full scholarships.
Note that the eight Ivy League schools, which include Harvard, the conference's best baseball college on the field in 2019, do not award athletic scholarships. The same is true for all 374 D3 baseball schools. However, these universities do tend to award a considerable amount of financial aid to their general student bodies. Meanwhile, the 259 D2 baseball teams can award up to nine baseball scholarships per team while the 212 NAIA baseball squads have up to 12 at their disposal.
College baseball seasons and rankings
The college baseball schedule tends to get started in the middle of winter with most teams at all levels getting their seasons underway in February. The best baseball colleges in each of the baseball divisions - D1 baseball, D2 baseball, D3 baseball and NAIA baseball - are crowned in May and June.
As each team makes its way through its college baseball schedule, it looks to reach as high in the college baseball rankings as possible. The college baseball top 25 is also a resource that you should regularly consult to see where teams that you're considering joining are ranked relative to the rest of the field. For complete lists of college baseball rankings of the best teams in each of the baseball divisions, head here:
NCAA baseball scores and news
If you have one baseball college in mind or a small handful of them that you're considering, the best way to keep up on their seasons is by regularly visiting their official web pages. There, you can find information such as live stats, start times and broadcast information as well as college baseball scores of games that they have already played. Conversely, if you're looking for many more college baseball scores than just those for a baseball college or two, you should head elsewhere. A couple of quality resources for college baseball scores are NCAA.com and D1Baseball.com.
Several outlets provide regular in-depth news on NCAA baseball as a whole.
ESPN provides extensive news coverage during the College World Series, but it tends to not cover the regular season all that much. However, it does provide tremendous television coverage of the entire College Baseball Championship. It also shows a considerable number of regular-season games, primarily on ESPNU, the ACC Network and the SEC Network.
College baseball championship
Every baseball college would like its college baseball schedule to end with a trip to the college baseball playoffs and, ultimately, the College World Series. To get there, teams need to perform well during their regular seasons, including at events such as the Frisco College Baseball Classic, an NCAA baseball competition. They must impress their respective selection committees as their seasons progress.
In NCAA D1 baseball, 64 teams are ultimately selected to the college baseball playoffs. The NCAA baseball teams that go all the way to the best-of-three national championship series will have navigated a four-team double-elimination bracket, a best-of-three super regional and a four-team double-elimination bracket at the College World Series to get there. Roughly half of those 64 teams will have gotten into the field by winning their conferences while the other half were at-large selections. The formats for D2 baseball, D3 baseball and NAIA baseball are similar.
Four teams won their respective college baseball playoffs in 2019:
- NCAA D1: Vanderbilt
- NCAA D2: Tampa
- NCAA D3: Chapman
- NAIA: Tennessee Wesleyan
College baseball recruiting terms
If you're looking to play for a baseball college, you should understand as much of the baseball recruiting process as possible. This includes knowing the main terms that recruiters at baseball colleges may use to describe you: prospects, recruits and commits.
Every player who's eligible to play for a baseball college starts out as a prospect. When you're being recruited by a baseball college, that turns you into a recruit. The last step is as a commit; if that's being used to describe to you, that means that you and a baseball college have come to an agreement. This can be verbal, which is non-binding, or written, which is.
Recruiting for college baseball
It also helps to know who your competition is, who the nation's best prospects are. One of the best resources for seeing who else is out there is courtesy of D1Baseball.com, which regularly posts college baseball recruiting breakdowns. You should also consider college baseball recruiting guidelines. Are you looking to be a D1 third baseman? In general, depending on the quality of your opposition, you should have a slugging percentage of about .750 and have hit 5-10 homers a season. Defensively, an infield velocity of about 90 mph helps put you in the running.
Also attempt to look at this process through the coaching staff's eyes. Staff members are doing their best to make educated guesses of how well you'll be able to adapt to college baseball and to the educational aspect of your experience there. Much of what they consider when doing so is your mental strength. They can teach the physical aspects of the sport much easier than the mental ones.
You also want to be proactive. You need to sell yourself just as much as recruiters at a baseball college are selling their programs to you. It's also important to be especially diligent if you're looking for a scholarship at a baseball college since those are few and far between relative to the sizes of the teams. Specifically, 5,000 scholarships are dispersed amongst 35,000 players every season.
Of course, put most of your focus on improving your baseball skills and what you bring to the classroom. You also want to ensure that you're a quality teammate and a strong leader and have a good demeanor, responding well to adversity. But you also should do your best to understand the college baseball recruiting process. Those involved with baseball recruiting on the other side have so much more experience than you do, and it's important to close that gap as much as possible.
Baseball camps can help you prepare for playing in college in various ways. For example, you can compete against your peers while learning from top coaches. Many baseball camps also take place on college campuses, providing you with experiences in those environments. Although it won't be anywhere near an exact match for actually playing the sport in that environment day-in and day-out, taking part in a baseball camp there will provide you with some exposure to it. Meanwhile, baseball showcases are specifically designed to provide exposure to many of the nation's top recruiters.
Some of the best baseball camps and showcases include:
Contacting baseball coaches
Fortunately, contacting baseball coaches is a much simpler process than being contacted is. That's because NCAA regulations severely limit when recruiters can contact you and in which ways. However, those rules do not apply to you.
One thing to consider is whether or not you have developed to a point that you would impress them. This could occur for some athletes their freshman year or, in rare cases, even earlier. Conversely, others may not break through until an unexpectedly spectacular senior campaign that was the result of a lot of hard work that led up to that. But, if in any doubt, go ahead and make those contacts.
Next College Student Athlete has helped numerous baseball players and athletes in other sports navigate oftentimes confusing recruiting paths as they made the transition from high school to their college fits. Many of those at NCSA have personal experience with the college recruiting process and share that with the student-athletes who they work with.
This organization has been doing this since it was founded in 2000 by Chris Krause, a football player who struggled with his own recruiting experience in the 1980s. Although he was pleased with his decision and ended up with the SEC's Vanderbilt Commodores, he wanted to help future student-athletes handle this challenging time as best as possible so that they could find their fits as well
Over the years, NCSA has received top reviews from athletes and coaches alike and has procured a Google Reviews rating of 4.9. As a result of what it offers, 35,000 coaches have joined the NCSA community while 24,000 athletes who used the service in the past year secured their spots on college rosters.
If you'd like to see just how NCSA can help educate you on the recruiting process and assist you in the networking aspect of it, make sure to fill out your free profile today. If you have any inquiries about what NCSA can offer or about the form itself, call 866 495-5172.