What Do College Softball Coaches Look For?

College coaches are charged with putting together winning and consistent softball teams. In order to do this, they look for talented players who are motivated to succeed. Superstar players who have the ability to dominate games are rare finds. As a result, coaches strive to find players who can fill roles and perform their best in clutch situations.


Coaches want players who are versatile and can play more than one position. If your primary position is third base and your team has a top-level third baseman who has been starting, your coach will want you to play another position so she can put both of you in the lineup. If you are willing to move to another position, your coach will be thrilled to have you on her team. "Work hard to show coaches how flexible and versatile you are by playing multiple positions, or being open to instruction, or doing anything you can to show you can fit into a place on their team," said Cindy Bristow, the former head coach of New Mexico State and Wichita State.

Hitting Skills

Every coach wants a power hitter who can hit the ball over the fence on a regular basis. However, there are only a limited number of these type of hitters available. Coaches are looking for smart hitters who will scan the defense and see where the fielders are playing as they develop a plan of attack. When batters see outside pitches they will hit them to the opposite field. Smart hitters know you can drive an outside pitch for power and you don't have to try to pull it. Coaches treasure hitters who rise to the occasion and show they are at their best in crucial situations. "College coaches can find good players anywhere, they’re looking for those special qualities that separate good from special," said Bristow.

Baserunning Skills

This is one of the most overlooked aspects of the game. Being a good base runner is not dependent on speed. It's about getting a quick takeoff, knowing the situation your team is in, being able to judge opposing outfielders' arms and knowing how to avoid the tag when you slide. More than any one single factor, excellent base runners are alert and know when they should be aggressive and when to be conservative.

Consistency on the Mound

Naturally, coaches want to have pitchers who can dominate with an overpowering fastball and strike out a lot of batters. These truly great pitchers are rare. In order to build winning teams, coaches want pitchers who have command and control.They want pitchers who have a variety of pitches and who don't get anxious when the game is on the line. The pitcher also must be a dependable defensive player who can make plays on bunts, start double plays on grounders back to the mound and cover first on ground balls to the first baseman.

About the Author

Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.