Defending champion Adamson University and last year’s losing finalist University of Santo Tomas came up with contrasting victories Thursday to set the stage for what is expected their blue-ribbon confrontation for leadership today in the UAAP women’s softball championship at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The Lady Falcons’ tiny 5-foot-3 hurler Lyca Basa allowed only one Ateneo batter on and her teammates peppered Kevyn Anne Lacson with 10 hits as the crown owner girls of coach Ana Santiago dealt the Lady Eagles a 9-0 shutout in only five innings for the third win in as many times up.
That was second straight win via the short route for Adamson following its 11-3 manhandling of La Salle, in five frames, too, last Monday.
The Tigresses, on the other hand, needed to walk through the rope for an extended 10- inning, 1-0 subduing of the University of the East Lady Warriors on the way to a similar 3-0 win-loss card.
Those contrasting fortunes nevertheless set the Lady Falcons and the Tigresses into their much-awaited showdown today with no less than the undisputed leadership awaiting the winner. Santiago’s and UST mentor Sandy Barredo’s charges meet at the 1 p.m. main attraction of the day’s tripleheader.
Ateneo, winless in three outings so far, and National University, 9-2 victor over La Salle, also Thursday, collide at 11 a.m. following the 9 o’clock skirmish between the Lady Warriors and the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons.
Basa, the only campaigner of note in the Adamson roster after losing three of its mainstays to graduation last year following the Lady Falcons’ seven-peat triumph, had all the Ateneo hitters she faced at the palm of her hands as she retired them one after another in 1-2-3 order, except one who boarded in the first inning but stranded where she was amid the champs’ crippling defense.
While the deceptive, frail-looking Basa was having her ways on the mound, her teammates had a feast day on the other side of the field, translating their coach’s tactical running bunt ploy to hits.
Unable to make solid contacts in the opening two innings, third-base girl Nichole Padasas, third in Santiago’s batting order and clean up girl Dely Covarrubias surprised the Aeneo defenders in the third frame by bunting their ways to a single and a double igniting three-hit, three-run attack that led to a 4-0 Adamson edge.
Finding success with the ploy, the Falcons continued their tactics in the fifth as shortstop Edna Mae Severino, second-base girl Riezel Columbres and Leslie Bernabaye, Padasas and Calumbres combined efforts in finally breaking the enemies’ backbone with a more emphatic five-run surge gifting their team the final count.
UST’s and the country’s best pitcher today Mary Ann Antolihao and UE’s Lovely Joy Redaja matched wits without relief for nine innings until the Tigresses’ first-base girl Jan Bianca Hernandez slammed a two-base-hit in the third extra period that broke a 1-all deadlock forged after nine completed frames giving he Tigresses their hard-earned win over the fighting Lady Warriors.
Despite the win, Santiago rued what she said the Lady Falcons’ lack of hitting power which she added, forced her to employ the time-tested inside softball tactic to put runners on bases.
“Wala pang palo ang mga bata, kaya para ma-seguro kong may laman ang base, binakante ko na lang sila,” she explained later. “Buti na lang umepekto.”
Right after the game, she ordered her girls to have a batting practice for an hour.