The Temple Terrace PONY Bronco Division All-Stars have advanced to the Super Regional Bronco Tournament after finishing in second place at the District 13 All-Star Tournament.
The Super Regional Bronco Tournament features four teams and is taking place on July 7 at the Shimberg Complex, located at 7301 Baseball Ave in Town 'N Country.
Greg Moore manages the Temple Terrace Bronco Division All-Stars, which consists of 11- and 12-year-olds. He has coached the Temple Terrace Bronco Division for seven years, and this is his first time reaching the All-Star Tournament.
“This is a first for me and for all of these boys,” said Moore. “It’s such a good experience for us; we are being rewarded for such a successful season, and it feels good because we all have been devoting a lot to get to this point.”
The same group of players has been playing together since last fall. They are the Bronco Division Rays during the spring and fall seasons and become the Bronco Division All-Stars for the All-Star Tournament. They have posted a 28-3 record since the fall season.
Two of their losses came at the hands of the North Tampa Bronco Division All-Star Team in last month’s District 13 All-Star Tournament. In one of the games, the Temple Terrace Bronco All-Star’s had seven errors in the first inning, something Moore is focusing on improving.
“When we lost to North Tampa, our hitting was not where it needed to be, and we kind of beat ourselves,” he said.
North Tampa will also be playing in the Super Regional All-Star Tournament, and although the opponent has not been determined yet, Moore said he and his team have prepared for whichever team they face.
“Regardless of who our opponent is, we have to improve upon our hitting, and we have to stop causing those errors,” he said. “That’s what we have been trying to do out here at each practice.”
The team practices three to four times a week, and because they practice in the evening, they have to deal with the occasional summer storm. Even though the team might not be able to practice because of the weather, they still watch videos of past games and review previous errors.
On days the team doesn’t practice at Temple Terrace’s PONY facility, they go to Moore’s house where he has batting cages set up for the players.
All of this helps them reach the next level, Moore said.
“At this age, the kids are either going to play sports or video games,” he said. “The ones that give 100 percent at this level are better prepared for the next level and know what is required of them to win.”
Temple Terrace PONY baseball is open to 3- to 14-year-olds. It’s different from little league in that players compete by major league rules. For instance, while a base runner in little league tends to learn fundamentals like exactly how to run the bases, a PONY player learns the specifics of what’s required while running those bases, like tagging up. Some parents have made the transition from little league to PONY just to help their child prepare for the next level, Moore said.
“If you want to play high school or college ball, PONY baseball prepares you for that,” said Jarid Salisbury. “I have learned a different type of fundamental baseball, and I think it’ll really help me in my future.”
The Super Regional Tournament is a double elimination tournament. The winner will advance as state champion and will compete in the national tournament in Atlanta, GA.
Moore is proud of his team and happy that they have gotten this far.
“When I am teaching these boys, sometimes it feels like I am teaching my own child,” he said. “Some days it feels like you aren’t getting through to them but then when I see them make a good play or when I see the translation of my advice being put onto the field, it makes me feel like the dedication has paid off, especially since we have reached the Regional Tournament.”