Challenger program

The Challenger Division of Little League was established in 1989 as a separate division of Little League to enable boys and girls with physical and mental challenges to enjoy the game of baseball along with the millions of other children who participate in this sport worldwide. Today, more than 30,000 children participate in more than 900 Challenger Divisions worldwide.

Starting age is 4 or 5 years old and Cupertino Little League welcomes Challenger players of ALL ages. Older Challenger players can also play in the Senior Challenger Division (there is no upper age limit for this division). Games are played on Sundays throughout the regular season.

Challenger games last about one hour and have two innings; everyone on the team hits. So both teams get two times at bat. Challenger teams follow tee ball rules, with coach-pitch. Everyone hits and everyone advances one base, except for the last batter who is the “home run” hitter and runs all the bases. When the home run hitter is running, courtesy dictates that everyone waits for the player to make it home before heading into the dugout. 

Sometimes when a ball is hit, the coaches will throw out extra balls so the players have more opportunities to participate by catching and throwing. Though the defense may make plays to try to get a runner out, the runner is never out. They stay on the base and will advance when the next batter hits.

For more information about Little League International’s Challenger Division, including how to get involved, visit the website at:  

For information about Cupertino Little League’s Challenger Division, email

Challenger Buddy Program

What is the Buddy Program? 

Challenger Buddies are peer athletes from our Cupertino Little League teams.

Buddies are individuals who assist Challenger athletes as needed in the areas of batting, base running, and defense. The main idea of Challenger Buddies is to help provide protection if needed when the Cupertino A’s Challenger athletes are on the field. For instance, in case a line drive is hit, or a hard-thrown ball is heading toward a player, a buddy is there to catch it or knock it down.

Challenger players and their buddies warm up together for about 30 minutes before each game, which is a great time for buddies to help with the warm ups and allow the players and buddies to get to know each other. 

Other aspects of the program include providing guidance (helping direct players around the bases) and building camaraderie between special needs kids and those without special needs.

Each team in the Minors, Majors, and Juniors Divisions “buddies up” with the Challenger As for at least one game during the season.