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College softball’s trend of young recruits is alarming to many

In 2012, former Canterbury standout Danielle Romanello chose the Gators as an eighth-grader. She was one of the youngest to ever commit to a college at that time. [Times files (2013)]
In 2012, former Canterbury standout Danielle Romanello chose the Gators as an eighth-grader. She was one of the youngest to ever commit to a college at that time. [Times files (2013)]
Published Feb. 5, 2018

Alexia Carrasquillo celebrated her birthday early by committing to play softball for the Florida Gators last week.

Her decision made headlines because of her age.

Carrasquillo was 11 (one day before turning 12) when she made her college choice, making her the youngest to commit in any sport.

It has become common for softball players to declare their college intentions when they are in middle school.

In 2012, former Canterbury standout Danielle Romanello chose the Gators as an eighth-grader. She was one of the youngest to ever commit to a college at that time.

Related: Softball players get offers as early as middle school. 

Romanello is starting her freshman season at Florida.

The trend has continued with players even younger who are pledging their allegiances to colleges.

The Gators are one of the leaders in this movement.

In October of last year, Mia Williams, daughter of former Florida and NBA standout Jason Williams, committed to the Gators as a seventh-grader.

Two months later, another seventh-grader, Keagan Rothrock, chose Florida.

Now comes the youngest yet.

Not everyone is happy with the direction college softball recruiting is going.

Some even poked fun at the phenomenon.

At a travel tournament in Colorado this past summer, there were more than 20 Division I-A college in attendance for a single 14U game.

Organizers said some college coaches were scouting the 12U age bracket.

"On a 14U team they're all seventh- and eighth-graders," Western Carolina coach Jim Clift said in a story the Tampa Bay Times did this past summer on the pricey pursuit of athletic scholarships. "They're so young they don't even count as prospective athletes yet under NCAA rules. I can literally call them up, run into them and talk to them. The rules don't apply until they hit ninth grade.

"And what's crazy is they're all committed. It's so competitive at the major college level and they all have the same resources. I don't have time for that. I'm not a fully funded program."

Under the current recruiting guidelines, middle-schoolers, as well as freshmen and sophomores, can call college coaches and meet with anyone in the athletic department on visits.

Changes could be coming.

The National Fastpitch Coaches Association has recommended that all recruiting contact begin Sept. 1 of a prospective student athlete's junior year in high school.

Matt Lisle, the hitting coach for South Carolina who has a huge following on social media, did an analysis of the potential changes in recruiting on a facebook post.

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