TC Fastpitch Profile - Justin McLeod
Triple Crown Fastpitch is fortunate enough to connect with intriguing personalities from all reaches of the sport – we’ll be sitting down with some of these people and sharing their history in softball and their thoughts on important topics in the game.
As the heart, soul and engine behind the Justin’s World of Softball website, Justin McLeod has turned a personal passion into a thriving media enterprise. His site is one of the true go-to destinations for news about Division I softball – during the season his day is spent churning through the facts, figures and first-hand knowledge he pulls in from multiple sources. The site averages 55,000 unique views monthly, a number that spikes up significantly during the NCAA season and when coaching-change news is percolating.
Based in northeast Louisiana, McLeod can hop in his car on a given morning and be at sites in six different states before first pitch. He’s restless, with a deep well of contacts and informed opinions that make him a powerful and relevant voice in the ever-intriguing world of fastpitch that expands outside of NCAA developments.
Q: Gameday responsibilities certainly take up your time; how else do you juggle your workload?
A: On non-game days, I check scoreboards, feeds, getting the full scope of everything that’s happening, because there are only so many games I can watch. I head from SIDs, coaches, and I compile it all, and I have to have hard-written notes on a legal pad. As an Internet writer that sounds odd to say, but I can’t go without my legal pad.
I always try to put out two articles a day, even during the season, always some kind of writing. Weekend previews and reviews … I don’t like to write about anybody I haven’t seen, or gone back to watch (on video). During the week, I have at least one or two calls a day of interviews, or talking with coaches, staying as up to date as I can.
Q: You web presence began in 2012; your popularity as a media source is right in line with the spike in growth of appreciation for NCAA softball. That turned out nicely, didn’t it?
A: I started it by chance, at what turned out to be the perfect time. The way the game has grown … you’ve always had people into softball and an audience there, but what is new, people want information and not just what their kid is doing on their team, but also finding out what is going at a school across the country, because it’s softball. You see it in so many other sports. It just worked out, when I started it was at the beginning of that. When I started, there wasn’t much softball media.
Q: Another chance in the recent past – the news cycle in softball can be almost volatile, with coaching changes and player transfers. Is that good or bad for the game?
A: I think those things drive interest – coaching changes, without a doubt that drives a lot of my traffic. When I started, I said I’d track that, but for everybody, not just Power 5 and big schools. People want to keep up with that stuff, and I know a lot of coaches who want to keep up, because they might have a protégé they’re looking out for, or they may be looking themselves. At the same time, you’ve got the transfers … it’s a good thing for the kids to be able to transfer without a lot of regulation, but there should be some. With the transfer portal, it’s gone too far. It’s the same with the recruiting rules … it needed to be fixed, because there were people sitting on the doorstep of 7th and 8th graders, and they needed some breathing room. But now, I think it’s too strict.
The beauty of it is, being in the softball media world, and that world having grown to the level it is now, we play a role in that. Maybe we don’t need to write about every transfer like it’s the greatest thing ever; maybe we don’t write about 2024 prospects right now, maybe we don’t bring that attention to it and maybe that helps affect chance a bit. Even if it’s there, maybe we ease off the sensationalism … nobody wants to see an 8th grader picking her college!
Q: For all the terrific NCAA softball we see, a viable and thriving professional scene for the sport feels elusive, made tougher because there’s not a steady Olympics presence for softball to help generate excitement. Is there a route for pro softball in this country?
A: I do see something there. There are a lot of people who may not realize just what softball has to offer, but when they see it, they really enjoy it, they see the positive traits and it holds their interest. I think pro softball is a viable product; the current makeup of the pro softball league is almost set up to fail, though. There obviously needs to be changes, there needs to be adaptations, and there may need to be, straightforwardly, different people in charge. In and of itself, the product that is pro softball is very viable and can engage people and can build a fan base.
We have technology and all kinds of avenues that can be utilized, if they’re done right, to help something like this blossom. You’re not seeing those things taken advantage of. Things need to happen approach-wise, marketing-wise, but I think pro softball presented the right way can be very good at bringing in people that wouldn’t normally watch it. It’s exciting and engaging. It’s something that could succeed and very likely will if the right people are in place and the right changes are made. It could and should succeed.