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Development Was Key For Carolina Collegiate Softball League

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(Graphic by CCSL)

As more collegiate summer softball leagues continue to pop up around the country, countless college softball players have embraced the opportunity to play beyond the traditional spring season.

For the Carolina Collegiate Softball League (CCSL), this summer was about more than just providing a place to play softball. It was about developing players and growing the game.

“It (The Carolina Collegiate Softball League) gives you the opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and gain some confidence,” Mike Coutts, University of Maine Softball head coach and CCSL general manager said. “The more opportunities you get to play, the better that you are going to be.”

In August of 2020, CCSL founder Kelly Ahrens saw the potential of expanding his already successful Stars and Stripes Sports League. After talking to his colleagues about his vision, he decided to start a developmental collegiate summer league in Columbia, S.C.

“Our goal is to provide a data-driven approach with the correct resources for each player to individually reach their goals,” Ahrens said. “While we wanted to provide college softball players with the same opportunity that the baseball guys get, we also wanted to be able to implement our training protocols that will allow them to develop rather than just play.”

Upon arrival, players were tested to find the specific areas of need for improvement. CCSL coaches then worked to develop targeted training for each player that was fit for their individual needs.

While developing in the league, players learned hip flexor and neuromuscular connectivity exercises to help prepare and protect their bodies while playing.

“We just want to teach them how to move better,” Ahrens said. “With every player’s profile, we have the testing numbers in there and we have their daily activities. It’s not just a profile with who you are or what you play, we have the ability to get these coaches specific information, which will allow them to match up.”

Unlike many other summer leagues, athletes could stay and compete as long or as short a stay as they wanted to have at the CCSL. From one week to the entire summer, the CCSL gave players the flexibility to learn in a time frame best suited for them.

In an effort to grow the game in all aspects, the CCSL welcomed NAIA, Division 1, Division 2 and Division 3 players this summer, as well as club teams from around the nation, in order to make the summer playing field even for everyone.

“The goal is to be able to provide a holistic view of softball in all players,” Ahrens said. “Division 2, Division 3, JUCO—there is just no coverage or resources for the lower levels. So, I want to get exposure and validate the ability for all athletes at all levels to be able to have the same resources and it not just be stacked to the Power Five.”

Sticking to their mission, the CCSL welcomed athletes from Boston College, St. Cloud State, Louisburg College, Newberry College and more to test and train together this summer.

Now that the summer season is in the books, the goal for the CCSL is to keep growing.

“What is next is to provide for the general softball public and inspire young kids eight and up to be influenced by college players who are developing and showing a passion for the game,” Ahrens said. “We have integrated with our communities and let them know that softball is great at any level and at any school.”

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