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Pros And Cons Of The College Softball Transfer Portal

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(Photo by Duke Athletics)

The transfer portal has revolutionized college softball over the past few years. It was created to make the process of transferring from school to school easier for student-athletes.

Before the transfer portal, student-athletes often had to sit out a year and complete one academic year at their new school. The transfer rules have since evolved and made the portal more attractive for those who feel their current situations are not the best fits for them.

The transfer portal allows student-athletes to make their desire to transfer known publicly. That has created a two-headed monster for student-athlete and coaches alike to manage.

Below are a few pros and cons from Jala Wright, a softball student-athlete at Duke and Softball America intern who successfully navigated the transfer portal to find her perfect fit.


New Beginnings

The transfer portal is a student-athlete's second chance to find the school that is best suited for their needs. As someone with at least one year of college softball experience under your belt, you now know what it takes to succeed, what you need and what you do not like about the experience. The portal is your gateway to new beginnings. You get to choose again, now with greater and more informed insight.

Be sure you are very specific with your wants, needs, desires and nonnegotiables. Do not allow anyone to make the decision for you, as this is your chance to start anew. If you feel pressured or tempted to make a huge sacrifice, take a step back and remember why you entered the portal. It is your experience, your journey, your education, your softball career and most importantly, your happiness that is paramount.


The portal gives you options. There is a softball program for everyone. If you decide you want to play in your home state, go 100 miles away, desire a big or small school or figure you want to see who simply wants you, the portal will provide you with those answers. Many student-athletes discover that their skill set is a commodity. They are surprised by the amount of attention they receive from schools they did not consider during their first recruitment phase. Take this time to truly dissect every program that is interested in you. This is your chance to weigh the options to make an informed decision.

More Playing Time

In most cases, playing time is a top reason why a player wants to transfer. They feel as though their talents are not being used adequately to help their current program succeed. This is where it can get tricky, as we know determining playing time is subjective and up to coaches.

While the portal will not answer that question, it will give you an opportunity to see what schools need your position. You can take a deep dive into their rosters to see where your talent is wanted and needed.

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The Diary Of A College Softball Player - Season Reflections

Duke junior pitcher Jala Wright reflects on the season that was and looks ahead to next year.


You May Get Stuck

Just as the portal gives student-athletes multiple options, it also does the same for coaches. The gift and the curse of the portal is the number of student-athletes who have entered it and not found a school. The portal provides an endless field of options for college coaches.

Coaches have specific needs in mind when searching the portal. They know the exact type of player they want and need to make their program more successful. Student-athletes must remember that coaches are looking for players who can not only play softball, but also fit their culture.

Coaches will call your former school to inquire about you as a person first and a player second. You must be a good person, have good stats, exude confidence and bring something needed to the school. If not, you may get stuck in the portal. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of players from last year still listed as active in the transfer portal.

Over-Saturated Market

Over 1,000 college softball players entered the transfer portal from January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021. That number includes players from all divisions. Before you enter, picture yourself among all of those players competing to find a new softball home.

Losing Your Scholarship

For many student-athletes, when your name hits the portal, you automatically lose your current scholarship. The scholarship offered by your original coach is not guaranteed to be replicated or increased by your new coach. It could be less than what you were previously offered. It is a tough pill to swallow, but it may take making the hard decision of picking a new school without having a scholarship to reach your end goals. A conversation with your parents and/or support system will be needed to determine if the new school is the best fit for you financially.

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