College baseball has provided promising players with the opportunity to combine developing their abilities with learning the skills necessary to succeed in an intensive academic environment since 1859. On July 1 of that year, Amherst and Williams, a pair of schools that currently play D3 baseball, played a high-scoring affair under somewhat different rules than are used today. Amherst prevailed, 73-32. Today, eight D1 baseball squads compete at the wildly popular College Baseball World Series in Omaha, Neb., in front of crowds regularly exceeding 20,000.
NCAA D1 baseball teams, NCAA D2 baseball teams, NCAA D3 baseball teams and NAIA baseball teams are located throughout the country with schools in nearly every state. However, the best NCAA baseball teams tend to be located south of the Mason-Dixon line as the temperate weather in February and March there tends to help playing conditions and recruiting efforts. With that said, significant exceptions exist, most notably the 2019 Michigan Wolverines squad making an impressive run to that season's College Baseball World Series championship series before falling just shy of national champion Vanderbilt.
College baseball playing opportunities are numerous as the number of teams exceeds a thousand.
- NCAA D1 Baseball – 298
- NCAA D2 Baseball – 259
- NCAA D3 Baseball – 374
- NAIA Baseball – 212
- Junior College Baseball – 511
The number of college baseball scholarships that are available varies with D1 baseball teams awarding up to 11.7 per squad. This number can be split between up to 27 players while players who are awarded a partial scholarship receive at least 25% of a full one.
Every college baseball coach looks for a number of attributes when deciding who to award college baseball scholarships to. These include playing ability, scholastic aptitude and overall demeanor. Ensuring that you get yourself known to coaches is a pivotal step in this process as well.
One of the characteristics of college baseball recruiting that makes it unique amongst college sports is that a significant number of the top high school players will be weighing scholarship offers with signing professional contracts with major league organizations and starting their post-high school careers in their minor league systems.
However, it's important to note that you can play in college and then go pro, but you cannot go pro and then play in college. NCAA rules prohibit professionals playing in college. But you can obviously play pro and then attend college as a non-athlete. Ensure that the contract that you sign will pay for that.
D1 baseball, D2 baseball, D3 baseball and NAIA baseball
The best players tend to head to D1 baseball teams although quality players, some of whom will ultimately have long careers in the majors, also play for D2, D3 and NAIA schools. Regardless, D1 institutions sponsor the squads with the largest budgets and the top attendances. The Southeastern Conference dominates attendance figures with the nation's entire top five in 2019:
- LSU – 10,555
- Ole Miss – 8,911
- Mississippi State – 8,586
- Arkansas – 8,344
- South Carolina – 5,998
Not only is there the D1 College World Series, but D2, D3 and NAIA baseball teams all strive to compete at their own College World Series competitions.
Warm-weather teams have dominated the D2 World Series with Florida Southern and Tampa taking home the most trophies with nine and eight, respectively. However, this trend does not hold true for D3 ball as Marietta, a school located in Ohio, has won the most titles at this level with six. Meanwhile, the NAIA World Series is perhaps most known for its famous home of Harris Field in Lewiston, Idaho. Host school Lewis-Clark State has the most NAIA titles with 19, which is 15 more than the second team on that list, Grand Canyon, which is now a D1 school.
NCAA baseball rankings
Several organizations release NCAA baseball rankings, at least five for the D1 ranks and at least three for both D2 and D3. Also of note is the RPI, which the NCAA Selection Committee utilizes to help it select and seed teams to the NCAA Baseball Tournament. This is also the best college baseball rankings resource for comparing the hundreds of D1 schools, which is important as more than 90% of those will not be in the top 25.
In the final USA Today Coaches Poll, the following NCAA baseball teams were ranked in the top five of this set of college baseball rankings:
- Mississippi State
- Texas Tech
College baseball conferences and standings
Nearly every college baseball team is a member of a conference and competes against league opponents for, in all cases, a regular-season title and, in some cases, a tournament championship. If there is a postseason tournament, that champion will earn the league's automatic berth in an NCAA Baseball Tournament or NAIA Baseball Tournament. The number of teams that qualify for conference tournaments varies from league to league.
College baseball schedules
A lot of planning goes into developing a college baseball schedule. Although conference play will generally be scheduled by the league office, teams want to ensure that their non-conference games that precede that and that are interspersed throughout conference play meet their needs. At the end of the season, conferences and national bodies organize postseason play.
For D1 schools, their seasons start in February in nearly every case. A baseball university that's located in a colder part of the country will generally fly to a warmer place every weekend until March and then start to play home games and in their home region. Many D2, D3 and NAIA teams also start play in February although more of them begin in March. The ones that are based in a cold climate amongst these ranks will tend to play games during these times on and near campus.
The best D2, D3 and NAIA teams will see their seasons end around June 1 while the D1 national champions will still be posting NCAA baseball scores and playing games towards the end of that month.
If you're looking for college baseball scores of past games or live stats of current games being played by a specific team, head to that squad's official website. Here, you can find information such as game dates and times, live stats links, channel listings – some teams are prominently featured in ESPN college baseball coverage – and, for past events, box scores and recaps. Elsewhere on that website, you can find team statistics.
To take a look at all of the college baseball scores across the country, head to a comprehensive website such as NCAA.com or D1Baseball.com. In addition to NCAA baseball scores, the NCAA also compiles official statistical rankings.
College baseball brackets
Nearly every college baseball bracket has a similar format: double-elimination. For example, D1 baseball teams need to navigate a four-team double-elimination bracket, a best-of-three super regional, a four-team double-elimination bracket and a best-of-three national championship series to claim the national championship. Conference tournaments tend to have a similar format, but there are definite exceptions. For example, the SEC Tournament starts with a single-elimination round before going into a double-elimination bracket and then wrapping up with single-game semifinals and championship contest.
ESPN college baseball provides extensive college of the NCAA Tournament.
Top college baseball teams
NCAA baseball is a fluid sport with teams rising and falling every few years. With that said, some tend to stay near the top. One of those is Vanderbilt. This baseball college closed out the 2019 NCAA baseball season with a dominating 8-2 win over Michigan to claim the school's second national title; the Commodores also lifted the trophy in 2014 and had additional College World Series appearances in 2011 and 2015.
Historically, four schools have claimed national titles on at least five occasions:
- USC – 12
- LSU – 6
- Texas – 6
- Arizona State – 5
NCAA baseball news
Several media outlets provide outstanding baseball coverage. In addition to those listed below, research ones local to the teams that are high on your list as local coverage is oftentimes more in-depth.
ESPN college baseball coverage is by far the most comprehensive as far as broadcasting live games go. For the 2019 campaign, more than 800 games were broadcast across ESPN networks.
College baseball camps
One of the best things that you can do while in high school is take part in college baseball camps and showcases. There, you can learn directly from the college baseball coach at the baseball college that you're considering and possibly influence him. Or, in some cases, you will perform in front of others who will pass on what they observed to that college baseball coach or others who you may end up impressing. Regardless, simply focus on performing and learning while there, and trust that the rest will work itself out.
Fortunately, college baseball camps take place throughout the country, so you should be able to find a quality one near you. Some of the most respected ones are Nike college baseball camps. Although not situated as extensively across the country, Nike college baseball camps are held in 21 states.
College baseball prospects, college baseball recruits and college baseball commits
As you go through this important stage in your life, it's important to know what various terms mean. Three of these will be used to describe you. College baseball prospects are players who are eligible to play at a baseball university. College baseball recruits have been actively pursued by college baseball recruiters. College baseball commits have come to an agreement to play at a school. This agreement can involve a scholarship offer, but it doesn't have to. It can be written, oral or verbal although the first one is the only one that's binding.
College baseball recruiting
It's important to consider what college baseball recruiters are looking for in a player. This will also help you find the best fit; you want to be somewhere that provides the best complete package as it relates to the quality and style of the coaching staff, the quality and culture of the university and surrounding community and the odds that you'll be offered a spot on the team and playing time.
You also want to take into account the recruiting calendar and take advantage of things like the aforementioned baseball camps as well as doing things such as creating recruiting videos and contacting coaches. Otherwise, focus on being the best player, teammate, leader and student that you can be.
Since athletes and their parents are generally going to be brand new to the recruiting experience while the coaches who they will be working with will tend to be quite experienced at it, it's important to be educated. That's where an organization such as Next College Student Athlete comes in. Since it was founded by Chris Krause in 2000, it's helped 150,000 student-athletes join college rosters in a variety of sports, 24,000 of those within the past year.
Krause was inspired by his own recruiting experience. He had been a high school football player in the 1980s who struggled while trying to both impress college coaches and determine what his best fit was. Although he was happy to end up at Vanderbilt University, he wanted to ensure that others who followed in his footsteps didn't have to struggle through that experience as much as he did. He wanted to make sure that they were more educated about it.
Are you looking to take advantage of what NCSA has to offer? Fill out your free profile today, making sure to call 866 495-5172 if you have any questions.