Adamson University softball coach Ana Santiago only aimed for a place in the title playoff, but her Lady Falcons did more than that.
Playing behind a curve-throwing pitcher Lyca Basa and a recharged batting order, the Lady Falcons shutout the University of Santo Tomas Tigresses, 6-0, to retain the UAAP women’s softball plum for a record eight straight time on Tuesday at the Rizal Memorial ballpark.
The 21-year-old Basa, the latest of the many products of Bacolod City’s Domingo Lacson National High School, had the Tigresses’ batters at the palm of her hands, limiting the enemies to measly three hits in a seven inning tour of duty at the mound.
While the 5-foot-6 looked imposingly 10-feet tall up the hill, her teammates, led by shortstop Edna Severino, complimented her efforts with 10 off the country’s no. 1 hurler Mary Ann Antolihao as the Lady Falcons completely dominated on both ends of the fields.
Severino, whom Santiago uprooted from ninth and last was elevated to no. 2 in her offensive rotation, batted a perfect 1,000 at the box, ripping Antolihao with a pair of singles, a two-base-hit and a triple in driving in three runs, half of Adamson’s total output.
Joining Severino in the team’s revised murderers’ row was third basegirl Nicole Padasas, who went two-of-four times at bat in driving in two of her teammates home.
Santiago, now acknowledged as the country’s winningest mentor, admitted she a started revising her batting lineup in Game 2 of the best of-three gold medal series, which the Lady Falcons won, 8-5, following a 3-4 loss in the opener.
“We haven’t really connecting since the tournament last month having to compete with a depleted lineup due to graduation of our mainstays last year. So I told myself bakit hindi ako mag-experiment na baguhin ang batting order since we had already attained our goal to be in the finals. So, ginawa ko noong Game 2 at naging successful naman, nanalo kami to tie the series,” Santiago revealed after her title victory, her 14th in the UAAP alone.
“Three days from that Game 2 win, nag-isip ako kung ibabalik ko sa dati or itutuloy ko ang ploy. From last Saturday, I isolated myself from virtually the entire world thinking about it, “ Santiago said. “Finally kahapon (Monday) I decided to continue. At heto na nga, champion pa rin kami at eight-peat pa. “
“Last night, I had a heart-to-heart talk with the girls to perk them up. I told them na kung noong after the semifinals sinabi ninyo na ako ang inspirasyon ninyo kaya tayo pumasok sa finals, ngayon ang sasabihin ko sa inyo ay ito: Kayo ang at ang maganda ninyong performance ang magiging inspirasyon ko para manalo uli,” she said.
With a wide grin, Santiago added proudly, “Natutuhan ko ang mga motivating words of wisdom na ‘yan kay coach Boy,” in reference to her maestro both as player and as a bench tactician, the late baseball/softball legend Filomeno “Boy” Codiñera.
So dominating was Basa at the mound she retired all the UST hitters that crossed her path in 1-2-3 order in the first three innings, allowing Tigress Celestine Palma on board in the fourth frame on a wild pitch and centerfielder Cristy Joy Roa on base-on-balls. She left both stranded on bases.
Basa, who struckout five Tigresses either swinging or standing surrendered a pair of singles in the seventh and last frame but like the other two whom she boarded, she fanned them out in a brilliant double play with the help of Severino herself.
“Walang tumama,” a dejected UST mentor Sandy Barredo could only murmur after losing anew the title for the third straight time. “Magpapahinog na naman tayo ng player next year. Lahat siguro dapat mag-tryout muli. Wala na akong isi-seed.”
After the smoke of the battle was extinguished, Basa’s stingy pitching saw her throwing a total 72 pitches, 50 of them strikes and 22 balls. Antolihao, in contrast, had 98 pitches, 67 strikes and 31 balls.