Our Mission: To help high school softball players find their way through the complex and confusing maze of identifying careers, finding colleges that are a good match, and navigating through the recuiting process.
One topic that players and their families want more information about is details about the differences between the NCAA divisions. Playing for a Division 1 school is very different than playing for a Division 3 school. Some of the key differences are listed below. Please keep in mind, that some D2 and D3 schools can easily beat some D1 schools, so it isn’t all about performance. Some superstars decide they want to concentrate more on their education than on softball and select a D3 school. It all depends on what is the best fit for you, the player. Not your parents. Not your friends. You. When you play for a D1 school, softball is your job and your education is considered secondary. When you play for a D2 school, softball is your part-time job and your education is considered as important as softball. When you play for a D3 school, your education comes first and softball is more of a hobby. These are gross generalizations, but they do drive home the point about sport vs. education.Division 1:Must meet minimum financial aid awards and not exceed a maximum award.A high level of competition – winning is very important.Good choice if you want to make sports your career. Approximately 295 Schools are designated as D1 with softball programsTypically have the best athletic facilitiesSport is the athletes “job” and education is somewhat secondary.The sport played will leave little time for any other college life.Must take > 16 core courses over 4 yearsMust have > 1020 on SATIvy League schools compete at the D1 level, but do not offer athletic scholarships. Instead they offer financial aid, grant packages, and need based aid.Softball is an equivalency sport and there are only 12 scholarships available that can be divided up as the coach sees fit.Must maintain a minimum 2.3GPAClasses will be missed for games, road trips, and practices. Early morning practices or training programs are expectedOff-season training programs are requiredMost of the people you will be spending your time with during off hours will be your teammates. Generally expected to pitch at 60mph+ with top schools requiring > 63mphTime to first base is approximately 2.9 secondsCatcher pop time 1.8 secondsPitchers receive larger scholarships than other players53% receive some level of athletic scholarshipGraduation rate is 81%Average school size = 12,900 studentsTypical Schedule: 34 home games, 10 road trips (30 games) plus conference championship, regionals, super regionals, and WCWS. Games start early February and the regular season concludes early May. Successful teams play through early June.Division 2:There are maximum financial aid rewards that cannot be exceededMany D2 athletes pay for school via scholarship money, grants, student loans and via jobs they either find themselves or through assistance at the schoolSlightly less competitive than D1 – winning is not everything.Good choice if you don’t want the pressure of Division 1Good choice if you are not trying to make sports your career.Approximately 264 Schools are designated as D2 with softball programs.Must take > 16 core courses over 4 yearsMust have > 840 on SATMust maintain a 2.0GPAClasses may be missed for games, road trips, and practices.Off-season training programs are requiredSAT is required and students must meet minimum requirementsGenerally expected to pitch at 58mph+Time to first base is approximately 3.0 secondsCatcher pop time 1.9 secondsPitchers receive larger scholarships than other playersSoftball is an equivalency sport and there are only 7.2 scholarships available that can be divided up as the coach sees fit.56% receive some level of athletic scholarshipGraduation rate is 71%Average school size = 4,200 studentsTypical schedule: 22 home games, 10 road trips (24 games) plus conference championship and playoffs. Games start mid-March and the regular season ends late April. Successful teams can play through mid- May. Division 3: Student athletes do not receive financial aid related to sportsFinancial Aid available as: academic scholarships, leadership scholarships, grant money, and needs based financial aid. Aid is not based on athletic ability or health.Low level of competitiveness.Good choice if you are looking to focus on class work and still be able to play sportsLess travel than D1 and D2.Good choice if you are not a star player.Good choice if you aren’t looking for scholarship moneyGood choice if you are not trying to make sports your career.Approximately 392 Schools are designated as D3 with softball programs.Academic life and community service are more important than athletics. Even though D3 schools do not provide Athletic scholarships, in many cases they can provide packages that provide even more financial aid than D1 or D2 schools can. SAT is not requiredOffers a later recruiting cycleGenerally expected to pitch at 55mph+Time to first base is approximately 3.1 secondsCatcher pop time 2.0 seconds75% receive some level of academic grant or need based scholarship averaging $13,500/yearGraduation rate is 87%Average school size = 2,600 studentsTypical schedule: 20 home games, 6 road trips (18 games) plus conference championship and playoffs. Games start early February and the regular season ends late April. Successful teams can play through mid-May. Current high school students need to seriously consider the type of school they want to attend. If you decide to attend an NCAA member school, then the division selected will dictate much of your college life. If you want a career in sports, then D1 is the way to go. If you want a career that supports sports, either D1 or D2 might be appropriate. If you want a career outside of sports then D2 or D3 might be appropriate. If you spend some time now thinking about what you want to get out of your college experience, you may save yourself a lot of heartache later if you get it wrong and go to the wrong division of school. Another way to better understand the differences between the divisions is to speak with a player from each division. If you currently play travel ball, speak with your organization about providing contact information for past players from the three different divisions. Be sure to ask about what a typical day is like during both softball season and off-season. This will provide you with the best idea of what your life may be like in college as a student athlete softball player.