I’m always happy to see players laughing, talking softball, and acting eager to get onto the field. That’s what they should be doing. Despite all the seriousness (and craziness) that’s associated with the college search, if softball stops being fun, it’s not going to be worth the effort you’re making to get recruited. In fact, the chances are good you won’t actually find a college team that’s a good fit. (Even if you do, you probably won’t last more than a year.) Why? Because softball at the college level is always harder than players expect it to be, whether they go to a Top 25 D-I program or to a small, lesser-known D-III school.
In order to really do well between the lines, you have to enjoy the game, and you have to be okay with working hard. If you’re not, if you are only going through the motions or playing for your parents, this will be obvious to anyone watching you. So, my hope for all high school players out there this fall trying to improve their skills is that you do it with joy and for the pleasure it brings you. Why? Because the best way to get recruited-assuming, of course, you’ve laid the proper groundwork-is to play for the pure love of the game!
9-1-18 FALL BALL MAY NOT BE A MAGIC BULLET
It's usually harder to play fall travel ball, particularly if you are a senior who is juggling a host of senior activities. In the "good ol' days" (15-20 years ago), West Coast teams (for example) would play two or three local tourneys or round robins, and they would go to So Cal for one or two tournaments, generally the Octoberfest and the pre-Thanksgiving (or at the time Thanksgiving) tournaments.
These days, however, some travel teams play more games in the fall than in the summer. And some of you are missing school every week for one event or another. But there's a great big catch in this fall tournament madness. (Please...pass this along to everyone you know, including your travel coaches.)
This is FALL ball. That means colleges are IN SESSION. Most college teams practice and play---be it scrimmages, double headers, or tournaments. And when does all this college ball take place? In the FALL... That means from late August or early Sept. to early November, many coaches are tied up with their REAL job--which is coaching their teams.
Consideration #1: Even if a college coach WANTED to scout every weekend in the fall, most of them could not because of team commitments. (And trust me, they don't want to scout every weekend in the fall...they don't even like doing it in the summer.)
Consideration #2: Many college coaches have recruits in for visits on fall weekends. And they want to be on campus when prospects are there, not out scouting somewhere.
Consideration #3: If you survey all the colleges East of Nevada, I'm betting the ranch you would find that the OVERWHELMING majority of them would say, "IF (and that's a big IF) we travel in the fall to scout---i.e., if we have the money, the time, the resources---we would probably go to ONE, maybe TWO, West Coast tournaments. And we'd likely only go to two of them if we were (unfortunately) still hunting for this year's grads or if we had an unusually big recruiting class coming up in the next year or two."
It’s also good to remember that on top of fall competition and having recruits in for visits, many of the D-II and NAIA schools will be having prospects come in and work out with their teams, and coaches at all levels often run fall weekend camps.
Be aware of the practical considerations. There are no guarantees that seniors will be seen (or magically discovered) at a fall tournament. So, make sure you (seniors) have done your homework. Remember, coaches may GO to these tournaments, but if they don't look for YOU, chances are good you won't be seen. And they won't look for you if you're not on their radar.
If you're not going to be playing where college coaches are scouting in the fall, you may want to focus your recruiting efforts on programs that would recruit you based on your skills video and resume or schools where you could either attend a prospect camp or work out with the team on a visit.