Do players, parents and coaches really care about player and team rankings? Absolutely!
Following the publishing of our Elite 100 lists over the last year for the Classes of 2018, ’19, ’20 ’21, ’22 and ’23—and doing Position Rankings for those classes (except 2018, which is currently in college)—we’ve had a huge response from the softball community with many wanting to know more about how they’re done.
Last year, I wrote about WHY we do rankings lists.. today, I want to respond on the HOW we do rankings and how players get considered for them, as that seems to be the most pressing topic right now based on the emails we received.
Here are just a few of them:
How do you rank your players? Is it based on you actually scouting them, do they need to be at specific showcases/tournaments? Is it based on recommendations from site members? I am curious what I need to do to get my daughter on the radar with your site. --- Ryan
I am interested in what I need to do to get my kids ranked by Extra Inning. I know some really talented kids on the list and I know some even more talented kids not ranked at all so just trying to figure out what we need to do.--- Jason
How do I get my players considered for your rankings?--- Southern club coach
How does the process work for getting my girls listed? Several off of my team did the All- American games… I nominated them and they were selected.--- Anthony
How do you come up with your rankings? We have players that have played against some of these and match up with them or are better. Is this a paid recruitment service by parents or teams? Thank you for responding.--- Randy
Hello. I wanted to find out more information on how to have player evaluated for Extra Inning player rankings?--- Michael
First, we are not a paid recruiting service, we’re a media company and to do our best to promote the sport through editorial coverage and information.
In digital media, you typically generate revenues one of two ways: you have a subscription component (ESPN.com does for one example, while much of its content is free as well) OR you have sponsors/ads.
We follow the first model primarily right now with some content free and others—including the rankings—behind a pay wall to generate income to pay our bills.
Being a media site working hard to be non-biased (insert joke here), we have to maintain a fair and balanced perspective so, no, we don’t take payment to put athletes higher in the rankings.
Think how bad that would be! Talk about losing credibility!
And another important note: the Position Rankings tied into the database of players for each class... in the future, when the Extra Elite 100 info is updated, so too will be the Position Rankings that tie into them.
So how do we rank players?
The way we compile the info to do rankings is three-fold...
1. Our staff looks at athletes in person at tournaments, showcases, etc.
Our staff has been at events over the last year including Tulsa Elite Invitational, Scenic City, Bolts 5-Star, Atlanta Legacy, TC/USA Nationals, Boulder IDT, Colorado Fireworks/Sparkler, PGF Nationals and more.
We look at players, but NO, we’re not scouts, and aren’t trying to say we are. But I think we do pretty good at evaluating talent.
2. We get feedback from club coaches who work with the athletes
I’ve learned that club coaches are the best barometer of a player’s potential. Why? Because they are with the players on the field, in the dugout and off the field so they know a prospect’s physical skills, work ethic, character, passion for the sport… everything that is needed to compete successfully not just at this level, but beyond.
And here’s a big key too: if a club coach over-rates a prospect, college coaches and others (like us) learn that his opinion will be over-inflated and not to be as trusted.
On the flip side, a coach that under-sells (or under-develops) his players will soon be criticized for not doing enough to get his player to the next level.
So generally, a club coach is pretty accurate in promoting and marketing a player at the right level she should be considered.
3. We get input from college scouts and coaches.
We do talk to college scouts and obviously they have to be sensitive about this, about what they can and can’t say, and we’re sensitive to this.
But those who can talk freely know what it takes to play at each level—Power 5, low DI, Div. II or III, NAIA, or JC—and current or former coaches will provide their input, especially those that are retired or not actively coaching.
Next point: HOW does a player, parent or coach get their athlete noticed?
Here are 7 things to do to help us help you!
1. Send info to us… at any time.
We have a huge database of names and we keep electronic files of players by class. It never hurts to send info in, we will store it and research the info when we look at that particular class.
When we work on a particular grad year—for example, an updated 2020 Extra Elite 100 and a new 2024 Extra Elite 100 will be upcoming—we pull all the info together we have and begin comparing notes internally and then talking to coaches externally.
Don’t feel you have to wait until we START on a particular class; we would rather have the info now and you contact us again later .
2. Email is best
To “get on our radar,” it’s preferable to have info sent to us (firstname.lastname@example.org) by email instead of text or Messenger or Twitter simply because emails are easier to store.
We’ll take the others, but email is best.
3. Club coach feedback is best… including legit “scouting reports”
If a recommendation is coming from a club coach, then we ask that the coach provide honest feedback good and bad about a particular athlete or those on his/her team.
Be sure to include the basics: player name, club team and age division, position(s), accomplishments, strengths, and even where you think they should be ranked, like “25-50, top 75, 100-125, etc.”
And certainly explain why the athlete should be ranked and where.
We usually can quickly sniff out pretty quickly the authenticity of the info and the scouting reports so don’t oversell (or undersell either!).
Exaggerating a bit here, but if a club coach says he has 10 kids who are Top 20 in a class, we’re going to probably say, “Uh, no you don’t.”
4. Players/Parents… think of it as an athletic “resume”
If the info is coming from a player or parent, provide stats, honors, top accomplishments… anything that will help your cause to get noticed.
The first key is to just get in our system… after that, we can start researching and verifying through a huge network of people we trust so provide whatever you think relevant about softball skills and also…
5. We’re always looking for a great human interest story!
If there is something that is impressive about an athlete, we want to tell her story! It may be softball related, but we all love the inspiring stories, or those that compel us in one way or another—perhaps beating the odds or doing something unusual or significant.
6. Event info… results and schedules
It never hurts to let us know—just like you would a college coach—what events a player will be at and where they’ll be (like 16U at Nationals in City X from Tuesday through Thursday).
And if a player shines at a particular event, let us know about it, we have content packages like the “National Club Player of the Week” or “National High School Player of the Week” where we can honor the athletes who shine.
7. Photos: ID them so we don’t have to!
And please… when sending in photos, ID them! It helps to title the photo, something like “Jane Doe of Team X hitting at PGF Nationals July 2018.”
We keep photos stored too and every day do searches to find players which we will use in stories.
Hope that helps. It’s not overly complicated and I’ve always been transparent about the process.
We are very thorough and do our best, but we know we’re missing players and not always 100 percent perfect.
But… the good news is that we’re always tweaking and improving and updating. The Class of 2023 will likely be done 3-5 more times so we’ll have more chances to get it right. And if you missed one class, send us info so we catch you on the next go-round!
Certainly, players will emerge, others will level off and many will continue to get better. Our goal is to keep gathering research—in person and talking to those we trust—so as many hard-working and deserving athletes as possible get the recognition they deserve.
After all, that’s the main reason for doing player rankings: to honor and recognize those that deserve it.
--- Brentt Eads, President & Editor of Extra Inning Softball
Note: if you have more questions or comments, feel free to send to me at: email@example.com