Everything You Need to Know about Softball Scholarships
Do softball players get scholarships? The answer is yes! More than 1,600 schools across the United States offer softball scholarships, and talented athletes can have part—or all—of their college tuition paid for. Scholarships are awarded by a college’s softball program, and athletes must go through the softball recruiting process to get a scholarship offer from a coach.
While athletes can receive a full-ride scholarship, they are not guaranteed because softball is classified as an equivalency sport for NCAA scholarship purposes. For equivalency sports, coaches can split up their scholarships however they want and award partial softball scholarships to attract more high-quality athletes. For example, Division 1 schools have 12 full-ride softball scholarships to distribute. In order to give scholarship dollars to all 18 athletes on their roster, the coach can award each athlete a two-third scholarship.
Insider tip: If you’re really interested in a school but they aren’t able to give you an athletic scholarship your freshman year, there may be an opportunity for you to earn one your sophomore, junior or senior year. Ask the coach if there is a possibility that you might be able to earn a scholarship over time.
What are my chances of getting a softball scholarship?
Playing college softball is competitive, and only the top athletes make it on to this level. During the 2016-2017 school year, there were about 374,528 high school softball players and about 31,729 college softball players. This means that about 8.4% of high school softball players end up competing in college across the NCAA Division I, Division II and Division III levels, as well as NAIA and NJCAA levels. Only about 1.6% of high school softball players go on to compete at the NCAA Division I level specifically.
There’s no sugar coating it: Making it to the college level is tough. It requires hard work, determination and being proactive in your recruiting process. And just because you compete at the college level doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get an athletic scholarship.
Number of softball scholarships by division level
In 2017, approximately 1,678 schools sponsored varsity softball teams. Here’s how that number shakes out for each division level:
|Division Level||Number of Schools||Max Scholarships per School||Average Roster Size|
Why you can’t estimate an average softball scholarship
To be blunt: It’s nearly impossible to calculate an accurate average softball scholarship. Any number that you come up with will be misleading and won’t be a good measuring stick for how much money you should get as an athlete. Instead, it’s better to set yourself up to receive multiple offers and use those to gauge how much scholarship money you can get. Here are just a few reasons that looking at an average softball scholarship can be incredibly misleading:
- Scholarship amounts will vary based on the school’s overall cost of tuition. For example, if School A’s tuition is $20,000 per year and School B’s tuition is $70,000 each year, the amount each individual scholarship is worth will be quite different. If each school has 12 scholarships to give, School B will technically have more money to distribute than School A because the overall tuition is higher.
- Every coach will approach scholarship distribution a different way. Some coaches will prefer to spread their allotted scholarships out to as many quality athletes as possible. Others will give a larger sum to specific positions or to get elite athletes, giving less to the rest of the team. And others yet will use a combination of those two mentalities. Looking at an average scholarship number won’t account for these different philosophies and won’t give you an accurate view of how much money to expect as you go through your recruiting process.
- Many athletes don’t get a scholarship until they are an upperclassman. An average scholarship amount will not give an accurate picture of what an incoming freshman would earn, as some coaches prefer to give the bulk of their scholarship money to upperclassmen who’s earned their way through the system.
Softball scholarships by position
One way to help you understand how scholarships awarded is go by position—scholarships do tend to vary based on position. Here’s a general rundown of how your position may affect your softball scholarship:
- Pitchers—This is an extremely valuable position on a college roster. And while the majority of softball scholarships are partial scholarships, most of the full-ride scholarships given out go to pitchers.
- Catchers—Softball scholarships for catchers are relatively common, as this is another crucial position that tends to attract scholarship offers. Many teams will have two or three catchers on a team, but might only give a softball scholarship to the number one catcher.
- Middle infielders—Athletes at these positions are well-rounded players who can field and bat. Starting middle infielders can earn college scholarships, especially if they have excellent batting skills.
- Third base—Because this is such a demanding position, third basemen tend to attract softball scholarship dollars, especially if they are powerhouse hitters. For athletes in this position, they should really focus on finding their best division level to maximize their scholarship dollars.
- First base—Collegiate first basemen tend to be powerhouse hitters who have some fundamental fielding skills. First basemen who can field and—oftentimes, more importantly—bat extremely well can find scholarships at this position.
- Outfield—In many cases, left-handed slappers will be given priority in the outfield, as teams need athletes who will score runs. Coaches usually have 2-3 athletes per position in the outfield, so scholarships can be difficult to come by.
Insider tip: If you aren’t able to get the softball scholarship that you’re looking for, search for schools one level lower. Top athletes will always receive more scholarship money than those who are in the middle of the pack.
Frequently asked questions about softball scholarships
We get a lot of questions from families who want to learn more about how softball scholarships work. We’ve summarized our most frequently asked questions here.
Can you get a college scholarship for softball?
Yes! There are scholarships available for softball at the NCAA D1 and D2 levels, as well as at NAIA schools and junior colleges.
How many scholarships does D1 softball get?
D1 softball programs can give out a maximum of 12 scholarships a year. These can be a mix of full-ride scholarships and partial scholarships. Bear in mind that not all D1 softball programs are fully funded, which means some schools might have eight or 10 scholarships available. 12 represents the maximum number of scholarships.
Can D2 schools offer full-ride scholarships?
Yes, D2 schools can offer full-ride scholarships. However, because they are deemed an equivalency sport by the NCAA, they are not required to give out full rides. It’s up to the coach to determine how much money they want to give to each athlete on the team.
What percentage of high school athletes will play at the college level?
Only about 8% of high school softball players will compete at the college level, and approximately 1% will play Division 1 ball.