Ahwatukee Foothills PONY Baseball Association: FAQ

How is PONY Baseball different from Little League Baseball? Lets compare!

Each of our local Leagues offers much to the families that play in each League. We often support each other in many ways through our different programs. Neither of our Leagues will be everything to everyone, but we will both run positive and strong Leagues that will ensure the kids and families enjoy their experiences for a lifetime.

The primary features that distinguish PONY Baseball from Little League Baseball are the use of a two-year age bracket system and scaled diamonds. In organizations such as Little League, players can differ by as much as three years within a division. As a result, the younger players may find it hard to communicate with the older players due to their lack of maturity, ability and size. Generally they find themselves spending a disproportionate amount of time on the bench and may feel disconnected from their teammates. The two year age brackets allow every player to play more positions since the skill levels within the age group is not as wide. The game of baseball cannot be played if the physical capability of the players does not match the physical achievements required for the game. PONY Baseball scales the size of our diamonds match the physical capabilities of the players within each division.

PONY makes the game of baseball, especially at the Mustang and Bronco Division levels, very close to real baseball and allows the games to be very exciting.

Age Groups

PONY

Age Groups in two-year increments:

  • Shetland (4-6)
  • Pinto (7- 8)
  • Mustang (9-10)
  • Bronco (11-12)

This allows players to take an older leadership role every two years.

Little League

Nationally only Minors and Majors – 9 year olds could play with 12 year olds.

Field Size

PONY

Field size changes every two years.

  • Shetland (5-6 years old) play on 50’ bases
  • Pinto (7-8) play on 60’ bases with pitching from 40’
  • Mustang (9-10) play on 60’ bases with pitching from 44
  • Bronco (11-12) play on 70’ bases with pitching from 48’

Little League 

  • All players 7-12 years old play on 60’ bases and pitch from 46’.

In our opinion, 46’ pitching and 60’ bases are too small for 12 year olds.

PONY base dimensions are the result of extensive experimentation to determine the size on which players of each age group can properly play the game of baseball. Pitching distance is also scaled to the ability of the player in proportion to the size of the diamond. The scaled down diamonds allow the players to make the plays made by the major leaguers, but are not so small that the player’s size are too large for the field.

Rules

PONY

PONY plays full baseball rules from age 9 & up – the same as high school and major leagues. Shetland and Pinto get to hit machine pitching to develop consistency in the swing and eliminate the fear of being hit by the pitch!

Little League

Little League plays a mix between Baseball and Softball until age 13.

Base Running

PONY

Starting with Mustang (9-10) age appropriate field size allows leading off and stealing, sliding and running on dropped third strikes. PONY players learn to read the pitcher on steals. The player, as a base stealer, becomes a threat and has a far greater chance to contribute to the team. This also means Junior High School and High School coaches only need to review fundamentals, not introduce them.

Little League

No leading off requires runners to remain on the base until the pitch crosses the plate. Stealing is mainly advancing on a passed ball. Not permitting players to lead off and steal, means they are not being taught a significant fundamental. Base stealing is a major part of baseball.

Pitching

PONY

Because of lead offs, pitchers learn to pitch from a stretch, pick off moves to bases and the art of the “balk”. Fielders learn to cover the bag, back up throws from catchers and learn the complete game including “back door” throws.

Little League

Pitchers do not have to pitch from a stretch. Without runners leading off, balks are irrelevant. Strong pitchers who do not have to hold runners and pitch from a stretch are overpowering. Players who pitch merely become “throwers”. 



Can girls sign up?
Absolutely! Many girls play baseball in the AFPBA!

Where are the games played?
The majority of our games will be played at the Kyrene Akimel and Estrella fields. We will utilize other Kyrene school district fields based on availability and need.

When are the games played?
All recreational divisions have two games per week during the regular season, one weekday game and one Saturday game. Typically the competitive teams will play a double header on the weekend. Each coach determines the time each team is to arrive for warm ups prior to their games.

How often and where will my child practice?

Practice schedules shall be determined by the Division Directors, with the approval of the Board of Directors, and shall be limited as follows:

  • Shetland–Practice sessions are typically 1 to 1 1/2 hours per session. Practice sessions shall be limited to two per week.
  • Pinto/Mustang–Practice sessions shall be limited to two (2) hours maximum per session. Any combination of practice sessions and games shall be limited to three (3) per week (i.e. 2 games and 1 practice, 1 game and 2 practices, etc.).
  • Bronco–Practice sessions shall be limited to two (2) hour maximum per sessions. Any combination of games and practices shall be limited to four (4) per week (i.e., 3 games and 1 practice, 2 games and 2 practices).

Additional Practices – Managers may schedule additional practices (i.e., batting cages, position practices, etc.) on a voluntary basis only.

AFPBA receives school district field assignments from the Kyrene School District. You will know which field you practice on once your child is placed on a team and your coach contacts you.



When will the practices begin?

Spring season practices begin in mid-February.

Fall season practices begin in early September.



When will the season begin?

Spring season games begin at the end of March.

Fall season games begin in mid-September.



How long will the season last?

The Spring season usually lasts about ten (10) weeks, including the intra-league tournament and is extended for those players that are on the All Star tournament teams.

The Fall season usually lasts about eight (8) weeks, including the intra-league tournament.

If there are rained out games, we try to schedule Fridays and Sundays for make up games. We only guarantee a 12 game season, so if there are no opportunities for make up games or the rain out occurs late in the season the games will not be made up. 



What equipment will my child need before the first practice or game?

Ahwatukee PONY will issue a jersey, cap and baseball socks to each child for use during league games. In the Spring season we will also provide a practice T-shirt. Belt and pants are not provided and will need to be purchased separately. A uniform consists of baseball pants, belt, baseball jersey, baseball helmet, hat and a pair of socks. Each player will also need to have their own bat. Most coaches can provide direction on the types of bat to purchase. Big barrel bats are only legal in our Mustang and upper Divisions.

Rubber cleats are recommended for all players. AFPBA does not allow metal cleats in any of our Divisions. We also strongly encourage that a mouthguard be used at all Divisions. All male players, regardless of age, is required to wear a protective cup. Last, but not least, a baseball glove will be necessary to play baseball.



Who do i call if I have a problem that needs to be resolved by the league?
If at any time you have a problem or just want information you should send an email to the respective Division Director. We would like for you to first discuss any concerns with your child’s coach. We also have a Player Agent on the Board of Directors that should be consulted in the event you cannot immediately contact the Coach or Division Director. The Player Agent’s responsibility is to be the player’s advocate and ensure any issues are addressed and resolved properly.

Can my child be placed on a team with one of his/her friends or with a specific coach?

In all our Divisions, the answer is YES!

Be sure to note your request on the Player Registration. The Division Directors will do their best to comply with as many requests as possible, although due to multiple requests, it is very difficult to grant every request.

All Mustang and Bronco players are placed on teams by way of a player draft to try to balance the skill level of each team. Only siblings will be assured of being on the same team at these Divisions.



If my child is unhappy with the team he/she has been placed on, can he/she switch teams?
Only in extreme cases do we allow children to switch teams after the teams have been formed. In the event this should occur, please contact the Division Director or Player Agent for resolution.

If my child decides to quit can I get a refund?
The refund policy noted on the player registration will be followed for any refunds being requested.

When and what are the player evaluations?

Evaluations typically last about 1.5 to 2 hours. The evaluation gives the coaches within the league an opportunity to evaluate each player prior to the draft. All players are placed on teams.

Please check the calendar for league evaluation dates. Shetland and Pinto Division players do not attend evaluation sessions as each player will be assigned to a team.



If my child does poorly at or misses the player evaluation session, will he/she be cut?
No, this is not a “cut” sport or league. All players will be assigned to a team. All players that could not attend the evaluations will become a “hat pick”. Hat picks are blindly drafted by coaches picked as a part of the normal draft process.

Can I keep my child down in a lower division?
Only in extreme cases do we allow a player to remain in a lower age division. In the event this should be reviewed, please contact the Division Director or Player Agent for resolution.

Can my child "play up a division" a year early?

A player may request to “play up” upon successfully meeting three (3) requirements:

  1. Filling out the “Play Up Request Waiver”,
  2. Having played in the League within the past 12 months and obtaining their last coach’s written approval,
  3. Approval from the Division Director and/or Player Agent.

Without all three (3) of these criteria being met, the player must play within their age appropriate Division.



My child has never played baseball before. If he/she is not as good as the other kids, will he/she have a chance to play?
Every child on every team will play a minimum number of innings each game. Each Division has strict requirements on the number of innings a player is required to play.

Are there time limits on games?

Shetland - 1:15 hours

Pinto / Mustang - No new inning may start after 1:30 hours.

Bronco - No new inning may start after 2:00 hours.

Lights will turn off at 10:00 pm.



Are there any Local Rules that are strictly enforced?
Official baseball rules: All play will be governed by the “Official Baseball Rules—The Sporting News Addition” by Pony Baseball, Inc.’s “Rules and Regulations”. In addition, AFPBA has adopted league rules which are available on our website.

What is the AFPBA mailing address?

You can mail any correspondence to:

Ahwatukee Foothills PONY Baseball Association
PO Box 93565
Phoenix, AZ 85070  

One of our board members checks this mailbox regularly.



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