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College Softball Recruiting Guidelines

Am I good enough to play softball in college?

While only about 1.6% of high school softball players go on to play at the Division 1 level, the other division levels, NAIA schools, and junior colleges offer many opportunities for promising prospects. College softball coaches evaluate a player’s athleticism based on arm strength and accuracy, speed, fielding range and the ability to hit for power and average. Softball recruiting guidelines enable prospects to compare their skill with athletes competing at the college level.

What softball measurables do college coaches look for at each position? What skill sets should individual position players have? This section breaks down softball recruiting guidelines by division level to give recruits and their families a better understanding of what will be expected of them at each position.

Keep in mind that while softball recruiting guidelines indicate what coaches generally look for, there are nearly always exceptions to the rule. Coaches also consider things like intangibles, body language and attitude. A prospect who works their tail off day in and day out will nearly always get recruited over someone with superior softball measurables who lacks a strong work ethic.

How do you test softball measurables?

The National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) has developed a series of testing measurables to help coaches evaluate athletic ability on the softball field. While the NFCA’s softball measurables do not replace in-person skill evaluation, they can lead to recruiting opportunities for athletes across the country regardless of access to top-level travel teams, geographic locations, resources and other factors.

Fastball velocity (for pitchers): Throw fastest pitch three times. Record all three attempts with a radar gun. If a pitch misses the readable area, it counts as an attempt, but is not recorded as a valid speed.

Changeup velocity (for pitchers): Throw off-speed pitch three times. Use a radar gun to record all three attempts. If a pitch misses the readable area, it counts as an attempt, but is not recorded as a valid speed.

RPM (for pitchers): Throw curveball or another movement pitch three times. Record with a RevFire gun to measure revolutions per minute (RPM) and velocity. If a pitch misses the readable area, it counts as an attempt, but is not recorded as a valid speed.

Pop time (for catchers): Start with catching arm extended and ball in glove. Both feet should be squarely on the line behind home plate. Start stopwatch on first move, stop when ball hits glove/net at second base. Record the three best times out of six attempts.

Overhand throw velocity: Shuffle and throw 60 feet from behind the line. Record with radar gun from behind thrower. Take the three best times out of six attempts.

Ball exit speed (off bat): Batter hits ball on tee into a net. Measure ball’s exit speed from behind the batter. Take the three best times out of five attempts and calculate the average exit speed of all valid hits.

Pro agility shuttle: Position three cones five yards apart in a straight line. Begin in the middle, touching center cone. Start stopwatch when hand leaves center cone, stop when runner returns back to center cone after touching both lateral side cones—right hand on right-side cone, left hand on left-side cone. Sprint through center line to test both directions and average. Record two runs to determine fastest time.

20-yard sprint: Run 60 feet to measure speed from home plate to first base. Assume ready position behind line and start stopwatch when first foot hits the ground after start. Stop when any part of runner crosses finish line. Record two runs to determine fastest time.

Vertical jump: Standing next to a wall, keep feet flat on the ground and reach upwards with the hand closest to the wall. Mark the point of the fingertips to determine standing reach height. Next, stand away from the wall and leap vertically using arms and legs to project upwards. Touch the wall at the highest point to mark jump height. Subtract standing reach height from jump height to determine vertical jump score. Record the best of three attempts.

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What do college softball coaches look for in recruits?

When watching potential recruits and reviewing their softball measurables, college coaches try to project how much success they’ll have at the college level. While a recruit might excel at the high school level, playing against college-level competition is another story. The game is much faster. Top recruits need softball measurables that demonstrate college-level strength, speed and fundamentals.

Division 1

There’s a reason so few high school softball players go on to compete at the Division 1 level.The talent level is very high, and the competition is fierce. Those who make the cut are the best players in the country. These players are recruited from a young age and possess ideal softball measurables. If D1 college coaches are in contact with your parents and keeping track of you on the travel circuit, you are getting recruited to play D1 softball. When evaluating athletes, D1 coaches typically follow these softball recruiting guidelines:

  • High school experience: 3-4 years on varsity with at least 2 years as a starter
  • Club experience: 4-5 years of high-level travel ball
  • Awards: multiple-time All-Conference, All-Area, All-State honors

Division 2

Getting a little interest from D1 coaches but no offers? You might be a solid D2 prospect. In most cases, what separates D1 recruits from the rest of the pack is excellence both at the plate and in the field. D2 softball players tend to be exceptional in one category and above average in the other. Lay the groundwork by building a network of college coaches and testing your softball measurables at camps and showcases. When evaluating athletes, D2 coaches typically follow these softball recruiting guidelines:

  • High school experience: 2-3 years on varsity with at least 1-2 years as a starter
  • Club experience: 3–4 years of high-level travel ball
  • Awards: multiple time All-Conference, All-Area, potential All-State honors

Division 3 and NAIA

D3 and NAIA recruits receive the lion’s share of their attention from coaches during sophomore and junior year. To stand out, build a network of college coaches and focus on improving your softball measurables at camps and showcases. Playing at the D3 or NAIA level is a great opportunity to plan for your future, so make sure the college you choose is the right academic fit. When evaluating athletes, D3 and NAIA coaches typically follow these softball recruiting guidelines:

  • High school experience: 2-3 years on varsity with at least 1-2 years as a starter
  • Club experience: 2–3 years of travel ball
  • Awards: All-Conference, All-Area honors
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When do coaches start recruiting softball players?

Division 1 softball coaches often evaluate athletes as young as 7th and 8th grade. If you’re looking to play D1 ball, you should initiate contact with coaches by the 8th or 9th grade to make sure you snag a roster spot before it’s gone. Keep college coaches updated as you get older and improve your softball measurables.

In the past, college coaches contacted an athlete’s high school or club coach to set up a phone call at an agreed upon time. From there, the athlete could call the college coach to kick off the recruiting conversation. However, according to the NCAA's changes to recruiting rules in 2018, D1 coaches are now prohibited from initiating contact until September 1 of an athlete’s junior year.

While contact from coach to athlete is much more restricted by these new rules, athletes still can—and should—proactively contact college coaches at any time. Reach out early to make sure you’re on the coach’s list of recruits by September 1.

D2 coaches start their recruiting slightly later than D1 coaches. However, the more competitive the program, the earlier they will start scouting athletes and comparing softball measurables. D3 and NAIA programs start the recruiting process even later, typically contacting sophomores and juniors. D3 and NAIA programs also tend to spend extra time making sure their school is the right academic and social fit.

Regardless of your age or point in the process, focus on improving your softball measurables and challenging yourself against the best competition available. Remember—your numbers depend largely on the level of competition around you. For example, it can be more impressive to hit .300 in a top-tier league than to hit .400 while facing lower-level competition.

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What softball measurables do college coaches look for in a pitcher?

Division 1

  • Height: 5’9’’ or taller
  • Pitch velocity: 63+ MPH
  • Command of at least 4 pitches: fastball, changeup, multiple movement pitches
  • ERA: below 2.50
  • Strikeouts: 1 or more per inning pitched
  • Walks: 1-2 per game or fewer

Division 2

  • Height: 5’7’’ or taller
  • Pitch velocity: 58+ MPH
  • Command of at least 3 pitches: fastball, changeup, curveball or slider
  • ERA: below 3.00
  • Strikeouts: 1 per inning pitched
  • Walks: 1 per 2 innings pitched or fewer

Division 3 and NAIA

  • Height: 5’6’’ or taller
  • Pitch velocity: 55+ MPH
  • Command of at least 3 pitches: fastball, changeup, curveball or slider
  • ERA: Below 3.50
  • Strikeout to walk ratio of 1:1

Junior College

  • Height: 5’5’’ or taller
  • Pitch velocity: 54+ MPH
  • Command of at least 2 pitches and developing another
  • ERA: below 4.00
  • Strikeout to walk ratio of 1:1
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What softball measurables do college coaches look for in a catcher?

Division 1

  • Height: 5'7” or taller
  • Overhand throw velocity: 63+ MPH
  • Pop time: 1.8 seconds
  • Home to 1B: 2.9 seconds
  • Batting average: .300 or higher
  • Home runs: 1+
  • RBIs: 10+
  • Fielding percentage: .990
  • Caught stealing percentage: 40% or higher

Division 2

  • Height: 5'5” or taller
  • Overhand throw velocity: 58-60 MPH
  • Pop time: 1.9 seconds
  • Home to 1B: 3.1 seconds
  • Batting average: .285 or higher
  • Home runs: 1+
  • RBIs: 8+
  • Fielding percentage: .975+
  • Caught stealing percentage: 35% or higher

Division 3 and NAIA

  • Height: 5'4” or taller
  • Overhand throw velocity: 55+ MPH
  • Pop time: 2.1 seconds
  • Home to 1B: 3.3 seconds
  • Batting average: .270 or higher
  • Home runs: 1+
  • RBIs: 5+
  • Fielding percentage: .970+
  • Caught stealing percentage: 30% or higher

Junior College

  • Height: 5'4” or taller
  • Overhand throw velocity: 50-55 MPH
  • Pop time: 2.1 seconds
  • Home to 1B: 3.3 seconds
  • Batting average: .250 or higher
  • Home runs: 1+
  • RBIs: 5+
  • Fielding percentage: .960+
  • Caught stealing percentage: 25% or higher
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What softball measurables do college coaches look for at first base?

Division 1

  • Height: 5’9’’ or taller
  • Home to 1B: 3.0 seconds
  • Overhand throw velocity: 60+ MPH
  • Batting average: .330+
  • Home runs: 2+
  • RBIs: 20+
  • OBP: .415+
  • Fielding percentage: .990

Division 2

  • Height: 5’7’’ or taller
  • Home to 1B: 3.1 seconds
  • Overhand throw velocity: 58+ MPH
  • Batting average: .315+
  • Home runs: 2+
  • RBIs: 18+
  • OBP: .390+
  • Fielding percentage: .980

Division 3 and NAIA

  • Height: 5’6’’ or taller
  • Home to 1B: 3.1 seconds or lower
  • Overhand throw velocity: 55+ MPH
  • Batting average: .290+
  • Home runs: 1+
  • RBIs: 15+
  • OBP: .380+
  • Fielding percentage: .970

Junior College

  • Height: 5’5’’ or taller
  • Home to 1B: 3.2 seconds or lower
  • Overhand throw velocity: 55+ MPH
  • Batting average: .280+
  • Home runs: 1+
  • RBIs: 12+
  • OBP: .370+
  • Fielding percentage: .970
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What softball measurables do college coaches look for at third base?

Division 1

  • Height: 5’8’’ or taller
  • Home to 1B: 2.9 seconds
  • Overhand throw velocity: 60+ MPH
  • Batting average: .320+
  • Home runs: 2+
  • RBIs: 20+
  • OBP: .400+
  • Fielding percentage: .980

Division 2

  • Height: 5’6’’ or taller
  • Home to 1B: 3.0 seconds
  • Overhand throw velocity: 58+ MPH
  • Batting average: .300+
  • Home runs: 1+
  • RBIs: 15+
  • OBP: .380+
  • Fielding percentage: .970

Division 3 and NAIA

  • Height: 5’5’’ or taller
  • Home to 1B: 3.1 seconds or lower
  • Overhand throw velocity: 55+ MPH
  • Batting average: .280+
  • Home runs: 1+
  • RBIs: 12+
  • OBP: .360+
  • Fielding percentage: .970

Junior College

  • Height: 5’5’’ or taller
  • Home to 1B: 3.2 seconds or lower
  • Overhand throw velocity: 55+ MPH
  • Batting average: .270+
  • Home runs: 1+
  • RBIs: 10+
  • OBP: .360+
  • Fielding percentage: .960
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What softball measurables do college coaches look for in a middle infielder?

Division 1

  • Height: 5’6’’ or taller
  • Home to 1B: 2.8 seconds or lower
  • Overhand throw velocity: 62+ MPH
  • Batting average: .300+
  • Home runs: 1+
  • RBIs: 10+
  • Stolen bases: 5-7
  • Fielding percentage: .990

Division 2

  • Height: 5’4’’ or taller
  • Home to 1B: 2.9 seconds or lower
  • Overhand throw velocity: 60+ MPH
  • Batting average: .280+
  • Home runs: 1+
  • RBIs: 7+
  • Stolen bases: 3-5
  • Fielding percentage: .980

Division 3 and NAIA

  • Height: 5’3’’ or taller
  • Home to 1B: 3.0 seconds or lower
  • Overhand throw velocity: 58+ MPH
  • Batting average: .270+
  • Home runs: 0-1
  • RBIs: 5+
  • Stolen bases: 2-4
  • Fielding percentage: .970

Junior College

  • Height: 5’3’’ or taller
  • Home to 1B: 3.2 seconds or lower
  • Overhand throw velocity: 55+ MPH
  • Batting average: .260+
  • Home runs: 0-1
  • RBIs: 5+
  • Stolen bases: 2-4
  • Fielding percentage: .960
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What softball measurables do college coaches look for in a center fielder?

Division 1

  • Height: 5’7’’ or taller
  • Home to 1B: 2.8 seconds or lower
  • Overhand throw velocity: 62+ MPH
  • Batting average: .330+
  • Home runs: 2+
  • RBIs: 15+
  • Stolen bases: 5-7
  • Runs scored: 18+
  • OBP: .450+
  • Fielding percentage: .990

Division 2

  • Height: 5’6’’ or taller
  • Home to 1B: 2.9 seconds or lower
  • Overhand throw velocity: 60+ MPH
  • Batting average: .310+
  • Home runs: 1+
  • RBIs: 10+
  • Stolen bases: 3-7
  • Runs scored: 14+
  • OBP: .410+
  • Fielding percentage: .980

Division 3 and NAIA

  • Height: 5’4’’ or taller
  • Home to 1B: 3.1 seconds or lower
  • Overhand throw velocity: 58+ MPH
  • Batting average: .300+
  • Home runs: 0-1
  • RBIs: 8+
  • Stolen bases: 2-4
  • Runs scored: 12+
  • OBP: .390+
  • Fielding percentage: .970

Junior College

  • Height: 5’4’’ or taller
  • Home to 1B: 3.2 seconds or lower
  • Overhand throw velocity: 58+ MPH
  • Batting average: .280+
  • Home runs: 0-1
  • RBIs: 8+
  • Stolen bases: 2-3
  • Runs scored: 10+
  • OBP: .375+
  • Fielding percentage: .970
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What softball measurables do college coaches look for in a corner outfielder?

Division 1

  • Height: 5’8’’ or taller
  • Home to 1B: 2.9 seconds or lower
  • Overhand throw velocity: 62+ MPH
  • Batting average: .310+
  • Home runs: 2+
  • RBIs: 18-20+
  • Stolen bases: 4-5
  • OBP: .400+
  • Fielding percentage: .990<.li>

Division 2

  • Height: 5’6’’ or taller
  • Home to 1B: 3.0 seconds or lower
  • Overhand throw velocity: 60+ MPH
  • Batting average: .290+
  • Home runs: 1+
  • RBIs: 15+
  • Stolen bases: 2-4
  • OBP: .370+
  • Fielding percentage: .980

Division 3 and NAIA

  • Height: 5’4’’ or taller
  • Home to 1B: 3.1 seconds or lower
  • Overhand throw velocity: 58+ MPH
  • Batting average: .280+
  • Home runs: 1+
  • RBIs: 10+
  • Stolen bases: 2-3
  • OBP: .350+
  • Fielding percentage: .970

Junior College

  • Height: 5’4’’ or taller
  • Home to 1B: 3.2 seconds or lower
  • Overhand throw velocity: 55+ MPH
  • Batting average: .270+
  • Home runs: 1+
  • RBIs: 8+
  • Stolen bases: 1-3
  • OBP: .350+
  • Fielding percentage: .970

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