I sat down next to The University of Stephen F. Austin softball coach Gay McNutt at the Elite Showcase this summer on July 2. Since I am not a parent of a softball player but represent College Sports Exposure (CSE), a softball coach will talk to me because they are not worried about an NCAA violation. I asked Gay what age does a Div. 1 college coach start scouting softball players. Gay told me SFA starts by scouting U14 and U16 teams at tournaments. 7th (2018 graduates) and 8th graders (2019 graduates) are U14 players. 9th (2017 graduates) and 10th graders (2016 graduates) are U16 players.
I found Abilene Christian University coach Bobby Reeves leaning against the wall of the concession stand at the Craig Ranch softball fields in McKinney, Texas at the Elite Showcase. Bobby was through with players finishing their sophomore year in high school (2016 graduates) and was scouting players finishing their freshman year in high school (2017). I was able to get Bobby to scout a 2017 graduate on Texas Sting 18U Gold.
The University of South Florida softball coach Ken Eriksen told me in May he was already finished with players completing their sophomore year in high school and was on those players that just finished completing their freshman year.
At the Elite Showcase I also talked to Jerod Stidham of Texas Women’s University in Fort Worth and Coach Lindsay Gardner of St. Edwards in Austin, Texas. Both colleges are D2 schools. Both coaches were scouting players that had just finished their sophomore year (2016 graduates) in high school.
Before attending the ASA Qualifier tournament held at Dyess Park, in Cypress, Texas, I sent out an e-mail to several community college coaches about a team with eight players that had just completed their sophomore year in high school that College Sports Exposure was representing. When I approached Blinn College softball coach Rick Church, he told me immediately that he does not scout high school students that just completed their freshman and sophomore years because he wants Div. 1 and Div. 2 colleges to be completely finished with them. So community colleges start recruiting high school students when they are juniors in the Fall.
In summary, Div. 1 college softball coaches starting scouting players when they are 7th and 8th graders and have selected their players before they enter their junior year in high school. Some Div. 1 softball coaches are finished recruiting before a player completes their sophomore year in high school. Div. 2 and NAIA colleges start recruiting players when they enter their sophomore year of high school. In general, community college coaches and Div. 3 coaches start recruiting players when they enter their junior year in high school.
So if you are entering your junior year in high school, your chances of getting a Div. 1 scholarship to play softball is a very low probability. Since most Div. 1 spots are filled, a player that is a sophomore should start considering Div.2 and NAIA colleges. When the player becomes a junior, the player should start considering Div. 3 and community colleges.