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.
Playing college softball is competitive, and only the top athletes make it on to this level. During the 2018-2019 school year, there were about 362,038 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.
In 2018-2019, approximately 1,691 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|
|JUCO||497||24 (D1) / 12 (D2)||17|
The NCAA D1 Council adopted legislation that eased regulation regarding need-based aid and academic scholarships that are not tied to athletic ability. Effective August 1, 2020, teams in equivalency sports like softball will not have any athletes’ need- and academic-based aid count against a team’s maximum athletic scholarship limit. Previously, athletes had to meet certain criteria for their additional aid to not be counted against a team’s athletic scholarship limit.
Softball teams will still have a maximum athletic scholarship cap, but student-athletes can seek to add as much need-based aid and academic scholarships as they qualify for. This rule change should allow softball programs to extend more money to families and athletes that need it—especially at private schools that have higher costs.
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:
One way to help you understand how scholarships are awarded is to 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:
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.
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.