Athletic scholarships for softball come in a few different forms, but the most common ones available come from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association (NJCAA). Apart from these two organizations, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) also provides a limited number of softball scholarships every year and other regional or local programs have been known to provide financial assistance as well. Some of these programs are much more competitive than others with some local programs seeming to be the best for any softball player to be able to get access to.
Most commonly softball scholarships are available for women who are going off to college and want to play in a college league, though there are certainly many programs available for men as well though they are found less often in leagues around the United States.
The more nationally oriented softball scholarships given out by the NCAA, NJCAA and NAIA often require some level of ground work by interested applicants wherein they contact recruiters and attempt to get themselves placed onto a team. While it is the case that some players have been able to find their way into a college softball scholarship without the assistance of a recruiting organization, this is becoming substantially less common as groups such as the National Collegiate Scouting Association (NCSA) become more dominant in the field.
It is important to know that there is substantially more than just the NCAA with regards to college softball scholarships. The NJCAA and the NAIA are also big funders when it comes to getting financial aid to need college athletes. While the NCAA does in fact represent the vast majority of colleges participating in collegiate softball, the NAIA represents at least 209 different institutions with the NCJAA representing another 358. NAIA schools have 10 different athletic scholarships for football which they can distribute to recruit new players. Meanwhile the NJCAA gives out 24 softball scholarships per college at the Division 1 level and 24 for those in Division 2. NAIA softball scholarships tend to be partial rides and NJCAA awards tend to be full rides. Important to note here is that students do not have to worry about restricting themselves purely to NCAA schools as, if they do not get into a program, they will still have alternatives remaining to them. Of course recruiting is still an issue and, as time has gone on, colleges have been putting fewer scouts out to look for talent. In their stead multiple “recruiting services” have risen to help students seeking softball scholarships get noticed and, in all hopes, access to an award. Though it is certainly possible to get into a program without the assistance of these programs, colleges have come to so rely upon them that players who do not use recruiters and get into a program regardless are the exception, not the rule.
Outside of the three major players in softball scholarships, there are local and even regional programs students will have available to them. One such example comes from the Babe Ruth League which gives out two different athletic scholarships for softball every year. The Babe Ruth Scholarship gives out $1,000 to various numbers of students. Applicants interested in this program will need to be graduating high school seniors who actively participate in the Babe Ruth League. Having high ACT scores, a good grade point average and strong athletic abilities will help a student get access to this program. The deadline is July 1. Another Babe Ruth League softball scholarship comes from the Jaime Horn Memorial program. This softball scholarship gives out an unspecified amount of aid to a single student and has the same requirements as the Babe Ruth Scholarship except that the deadline is September 1.
Another great example of local softball scholarships comes from the Protect Our Nation’s Youth program in Pennsylvania. Students who have graduated from one of the PONY leagues are eligible to apply and must have all of their materials turned in no later than May 1. Amounts of the award will vary from person to person.