AA has several unique components. It is typically the first exposure for kids to pitch. It is also the first time that they don't bat around (7 kids bat per inning, max), and the focus is on making outs. Additionally, the game moves pretty quickly as there are no walks since coaches step in to pitch after 6 pitches if the batter hasn't seen enough strikes. These games also tend to go 6 innings, which is a bit longer than the games in A. We don't keep records and the game score stays at the field.
How are the AA teams formed?
The AA teams are formed around neighborhood schools with volunteer parent coaches. This is the highest level in ALL without STEP (tryouts and drafts). The ideal team size is 10-11 players, with a maximum of 12 per team. Games can be played with fewer than 9 players.
What is the skill level and who are the typical players?
AA players are composed primarily of 8 and 9 year old players, and typically we have a pretty even split. Some of the kids have been playing since they could walk, and others are new to the sport. We try to accommodate a wide range of skill levels in AA.
What is the game and practice schedule at this level?
Teams begin practices in March and games on Opening Weekend in early April. During the regular season, teams have practice once per week, typically on a weeknight or Sunday afternoon; during the preseason, teams have two practices per week (one on a weeknight, one on a weekend day). Games are played on Saturday mornings or afternoons, as well as having one game every other week on a weeknight; game schedules will be made available in late March or early April. Games typically last 4 or 5 innings, and take approximately 1.5 hours.
In early June we start a single-elimination postseason tournament. All teams participate in this tournament, culminating with a championship game at Barcroft field under the lights. Umpires are present for most of these games. Teams that don't make the final game play a consolation game once they are eliminated from the tournament (each team gets 2+ postseason games).
When will I hear from a coach?
Teams are formed in early March to enable several weeks of preseason practices so that coaches can get to know their team members and start working on hitting and fielding fundamentals.
What does a typical game look like?
The first two games are coach-pitch (level-5 baseballs), and they are similar to A level games except a maximum of 7 kids bat each inning, and the side can be retired after 3 outs. We call strikes if players don't swing at a good pitch. We only put 9 (or 10) players on the field for defense, and we always play a catcher in full gear.
Starting in game 3 (this varies from year to year), the kids pitch. The kids pitch from 40-43' from home plate, and they throw up to 6 pitches to each batter. We count strikes, and 3 strikes for an out. If the batter hasn't put the ball in play after 6 pitches, then a coach will take over the pitching.
Each pitcher only pitches one inning to encourage the development of up to 6 pitchers on each team. Players typically rotate positions in the field, although coaches may make sure the first baseman is able to catch since some of kids can really throw at this level.
We use umpires only for the playoffs. The games are meant to be fun, and although we keep score during the game, it isn't recorded, and we don't keep win/loss records.
What does my player need?
The league provides a team t-shirt and hat for each player. The coach will provide batting helmets, catcher’s gear, and baseball bats. Players need to provide their own glove, cleats, and baseball pants, and bring water to each game.
How can I help?
We are always in need of coaches. The more coaches we have, the more teams we can field, and if we can keep the teams small, then the kids are getting more attention from each coach as well as having more opportunities to play and see action!
The kids at this level are still young, and the focus is to learn fundamentals while having fun and to build a love of baseball. Coaching, or assistant coaching, is a great way to interact with your kids and their friends while providing a positive role model for them to emulate.
What else is required?
Your participation. Even if you don’t volunteer to be the head coach, parents should be present at games to cheer on the teams and help the coaches.