While there is no maximum limit to the number of players that can be included on a college softball team listed in the NCAA rule book, there are specific rules governing the number of players, particularly scholarship players that can be listed on an NCAA Division I team's roster. The basics of the game call for nine players on a side and allow for eligible substitutes listed on the lineup card submitted to the plate umpire before each game.
Each team in a Division I softball game must have nine eligible players on the field at all times. Standard positions for these players include a pitcher, catcher, first, second and third basemen, short stop and three outfielders. It is usual for a team to list at least several other eligible players for a given game including backup pitchers, so-called utility players and perhaps a stronger hitter to fill the designated player (DP) role. If a team cannot field nine eligible players, the game is deemed a forfeit according to NCAA rules to the team that can field a full team of nine.
The NCAA allows Division I softball teams to have 12 scholarships on each team if each school chooses to budget for that many scholarships. Those scholarships can amount to more than 12 players, however. Scholarships can be divided into half, third or other partial scholarships resulting in a larger roster of players for any given team. A team's roster of scholarship athletes, then, could amount to up to 25 players. Teams may also field so-called walk on players who are not on any athletic scholarship.
A typical roster among the top teams around the country numbers between 15 and 19 players. With more than twice the number of players on a roster than are allowed on the field at any given time, this offers the coaching staff of each of these teams options on how best to field a team from back up pitchers to strength in the field or an extra strong hitter in the designated player (DP) role.