Question: How to Get College Exposure? My daughter is a junior in High School. She has been pitching for 8 years, taking private lessons for the last four. Currently she is stuck behind an All-State pitcher and is getting very little game time during her high school season. This has been very discouraging for her as well as for me.
She has played summer travel ball for the last 3 yrs and will do so again this year. Besides summer tournaments, talking with the college coaches where she wants to go to school, and making a video, is there anything else we can do to get exposure? How important are overall high school stats for pitchers? He pitching instructor (A D-1 college coach) has indicated she is probably a D-II/III or NAIA level pitcher. How late do colleges recruit seniors? Perhaps she is better trying to be a walk-on as a college scholarships may not be needed? Unfortunately, due to her high school experience, she may decide not to play in college.
Answer: How to Get College Exposure
Well, the first thing you and your daughter should do is read my book, Preparing to Play Softball at the Collegiate Level! The reason is that it will open her eyes to the world of recruiting, and it should hopefully help motivate her to keep going as well as provide the tools you/she need to find a college and team that are a great match for her. The second thing you need to do is understand that while high school softball is important for continuing skill development, extra work-out and playing time, and socialization, most college coaches these days look first and foremost at a player's travel ball experience. High school ball varies too much from region to region, even county to county, in terms of consistency of competition, coaching, etc. Your daughter can view HS ball as her time to get ready for summer ball while contributing whatever she's asked to her team and school.
HS stats are minimally important, because unless a college coach knows the level of HS competition, these stats really don't say much about the player. A pitcher with a 1.9 ERA in a really tough HS league with lots of top travel ball hitters might be good Div. I prospect, while a pitcher with 0.20 ERA who's playing in an essentially "slow pitch" league might turn out to be someone who just throws a 54 mph fastball and nothing else.
It's very important to remember that when it comes to playing in college, the athlete's motivation has to be very strong, and things like sitting the bench can't deter her from doing it. She may well sit in college, at least as a freshman, so she has to want to be there for the love of the game. As for her college search, you can follow the guidelines in my book for contacting coaches, sending out tapes, making follow up schools, etc. But the most helpful information may be on how to find her best "target zone" colleges.
If she has her heart set on going to specific schools only, she may have to give up college ball---if she wants to go to a big D-I school, for example, and she's a good D-III or NAIA prospect, then she probably won't be playing ball there. But there are so many schools looking for good pitching, that she has lots of choices. The key is marketing her skills to the right schools for her! She can try out as a walk-on at a big program, but since 80% of ALL college teams are Div. II, Div. III or NAIA, if she's going to help that kind of team, she has lots more schools to choose from. If you are fortunate enough to be able to help with the cost of her education, that opens even more doors, as Div. III schools--and many smaller D-I, D-II or NAIA schools--don't have athletic scholarships. This factor combined with solid pitching skills may make her a terrific prospect for a lot of coaches!!!!
If she loves the game and really wants to play, don't be deterred by an unfortunate HS situation. Send out 40 or 50 packets with a letter (see my book), resume (see my book) and video (ditto!!!) and then start following up in the fall with phone calls. Smaller programs are often still looking over the winter and into the spring of the player's senior year! Best of luck!