Two seasons ago, University of Santo Tomas (UST) snapped Adamson University’s 73-game winning streak in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines women’s softball although the Lady Falcons still won the diadem to raise their title reign to uninterrupted six years.
On Tuesday, the Tigresses showed they’re capable, too, of cutting short the Lady Falcons’ now seven-year rule with a 4-3 conquest of the title defenders at the start of their best-of-three championship series for the 2017-2018 season crown at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The Tigresses though needed one short flash of brilliance at the top of the third inning that saw them score four runs on two hits aided by a pair of costly errors to salvage the win, their first over the Lady Falcons in five times up since stopping their arch enemies’ long victory run.
Failure of Adamson shortstop Edna Mae Severino to field what looked like an easy grounder by UST leftfielder Jessie Belano with one out at the start of that pivotal frame signaled the Lady Falcons’ downfall. That boner allowed Berlano to safely board on first.
Losing pitcher Lyca Basa issued a base-on balls to catcher Ma. Celestino Palma in the next play, advancing Belano to second from where she reached home in a double by Cristy Roa as the Tigresses roared ahead, 2-1, counting designated player Shiela Mae Perales’ run-producing single single in the first canto.
Another base-hit, this time by first basegirl Janah Hernandez to far left saw Palma and Roa running one after the other across the plate in what turned out the Tigresses’ only needed to negate back-to-back home runs fashioned out by Adamson rightfielder Jenette Rusia and first basegirl Florabele Pabiania an inning earlier.
The win on moved coach Sandy Barredo’s sluggers to within a win of clinching the crown the Lady Falcons deprived them the past two years.
Meanwhile, the game between La Salle and Adamson, also in the opener of their first-to-win three title series for the men’s baseball plum, was still being played at press time.
Coach Ana Santiago’s San Marcelino-based blue-and-white clad girls putup a rally of sort by sending two runners in their half of the third, one each in the fourth and sixth but failed tom send them home each as winning hurler Mary Ann Antolihao frustrated them fanning them out each time.
The victory, more than ventilated Antolihao, acknowledged as the league’s and country’s finest pitcher today, who was beaten by Basa the first two times they met in the two-round eliminations.
Three times, Antolihao from Cebu, retired the Adamson batters in 1-2-3 order in the fifth and seventh and last frame in showing she still is the best in manning the hill where she limited the opposition to only five hits in a full seven-inning job without relief.
She, likewise, struck out seven Lady Stags that crossed her path and left three stranded on the bases.
“Babawi na lang sa susunod,” Santiago said following her loss, her first in 19 games against the Tigresses the past two years. “Ganyan lang naman talaga ang buhay, sometimes you lose, sometimes you win.”
“Grabe mga error ng mga bata.. Kung nakuha lang yung grounder noong third inning, hindi magkakaganoon ang resulta,” she rued. “I admire though UST’s fighting spirit. Akala ko tapos na noong maka-back-tro-back home run kami.”
If Barredo will have his way though, his Tigresses will win Game 2 of the series on Friday to end UST’s two-decade title drought.
“Kailangan tapusin na sa Biyernes. Masyado nang matagaql ang pinaghihintay namin na makamit ang kampeonato, pipilitin na naming manalo para naman sa UST,” he vowed.