Oakland Vipers

What is Travel Softball?

As the name indicates, teams travel to play softball against other teams from nearby (or sometimes far away) communities, but there is a little more to it than that.  The teams play competitive games  at distinct age levels in a tournament style format.  Tournaments are usually played on the weekends with teams playing round-robin type non-elimination pool play games on Saturdays to determine seeding.  On Sundays, there is a single or double elimination tournament.  Unlike other sports such as soccer or basketball, there are many tournaments that consist of teams formed from the better players in the local recreational leagues.  The beginnings of travel softball start as an extension of recreational softball and then some players continue on to even stiffer competition with teams that are comprised of players from many local areas or leagues.

What are the different levels of play and options to play travel softball?

Teams are typically broken into three levels: A, B and C.

A ball – Teams are not associated with a recreational league. Anyone who meets age requirements can play. Typically you pay to practice. For teams that are actually competitive there is no guarantee that a player will get to play in a game.

B ball – Teams are associated with a recreational league. The league can have tryouts for this type of team at any time during the calendar year and they can practice and play tournaments during the rec ball season.

C ball – Teams are associated with a recreational league. The tryouts and team selection must adhere to a strict timeline and players cannot participate with the travel team until the recreational season is substantially complete.

Why are there different levels?

It helps keep players in the game if you work up to the point where you are competing just to get time on the field. Imagine being the 14th player on a 10A travel team. You might only get a chance to pinch run during the season. The costs though will be the same as for the starting pitcher. Not every ten year old is ready to compete with this level of intensity. Hence you see fewer A clubs at this age group. Having the C level gives players that want to wade into the competition a chance to test the waters. Typically everyone plays on Saturdays and the best play on Sundays during elimination. The B level provides an arena for an increased level of competition year round without necessarily having to earn every bit of playing time. 

Who is eligible to play?

Eligibility is based upon a players age no matter what level of play at which they participate.  A player must be at or under the age limitation on December 31st of the calendar year PRIOR to the season year in which they play.  Confusing?  How about an example.  To play 12U softball for the Spring, Summer or Fall of 2034, the player must be 12 years old or younger on December 31st, 2033.  The player in question may turn 13 on January 1st, 2034 but they would still be eligible for 12U that Summer based on the rules in effect.

When are the tournaments?

The typical season runs from Memorial Day until the beginning of August.  Some B tournaments overlap with the rec ball season and there are a few tournaments that occur right before school returns to session.  There are also Fall tournaments and participation is usually a function of demand.  In the Fall players typically play up to the next age group or level (C to B) to get a feel for what is on the horizon.

How can I get my player involved?

Register for either the OGSL or PBSF recreational league and then look for tryouts in the early and late Spring for the B and C levels respectively at each age group. The leagues send out announcements and give families a chance to register for the tryouts. Upon receiving registration information, the coach running the specific team will pass on additional and more specific tryout information. 

How much does it cost to play?

The cost varies depending on uniform needs and the number of tournaments played by your player’s team.  The costs might run from $600 to $800 but could be more depending on tournaments played.  The costs include team insurance, association registrations, practice field rentals and basic equipment (balls, nets, etc.)  Not included are the travel costs for each family, such as auto expenses, hotel, food and entertainment.  Usually more than half the tournaments at this level are played within the greater Bay Area and no overnight stays are necessary.  On most teams there will be a few tournaments that require more lengthy travel and hotel stays. (Nothing like a pool for team bonding time!)

Why Vipers?

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For more information please contact us at vipers@ogsl.org