As a fan of NCAA softball for over 10 years, I have visited the web pages of hundreds of college teams and looked through the rosters of dozens of teams. Each time I look at a different NCAA team's roster, I get the feeling a significant number of players are from California--no matter what team I am looking at or where in the country it is from. Am I just seeing things, or is there something to this? I know California is a hotbed of softball talent, but does it really take up a significant number of roster spots on each NCAA team?
Let's go to the data:
For my sample I used the 16 teams that made the Super Regional in 2017. I pulled the roster info for each team and found that out of 320 players, 102 or 32% were from California! I was not expecting it to be that high. I would have considered 10% to be high, but 32%! Almost one in every three players on the top teams are from California. And not only did California players make up almost 32% of the players, each of the top 16 teams from 2017 had at least one player from The Golden State.
Based on my analysis, I must conclude that California makes up a disproportionately large percentage of NCAA softball rosters, and that California produces players that win at the highest level in the NCAA.
I am surprised too that so many players from California are willing to travel so far away from home to schools all along the West Coast and to the central and southeast parts of the country to play ball. The investment in coaches and facilities by conferences like the SEC must play a huge role in luring the talent away from California.
It might be that the increasing parity we are seeing in college softball can be explained by the fact that California players are no longer limiting themselves to the Pac-12, but are fanning out geographically and bringing the benefits of their talent to more teams across the county!
If I was a college coach I would just go to California every off-season and recruit exclusively in The Golden State. I would try to make an all-California roster, and I bet I would never lose a game!