Adamson University’s Lyca Basa and May Ann Antolihao of University of Santo Tomas met for the ninth time in a classic “first to blink loses” kind of encounter in the second round of elimination in the UAAP Women’s Softball Championship Monday at the Rizal Memorial playing field.
After seven innings of exchanging repertoire of risers, sinkers, outside and inside curves and fastballs, Antolihao, last year’s Best Pitcher awardee, blinked first and went home teary-eyed.
The defending champions Lady Falcons prevailed in a slimmest of margin of one run, 2-1, to assure themselves of top spot regardless of the outcome of their last two assignments bringing with them the twice-to-beat privilege in the semifinals.
With Adamson’s murderers’ row unable to connect off Antolihao, who only a little over a week ago pitched a near-perfect game in a 3-0 shutting out of Ateneo, coach Ana Santiago relied on the lower half of her batting order who responded at the bottom of the fifth and seventh frames where they tied the count and scored the winning run, respectively.
Antolihao contributed to her own downfall and that of the Tigresses by walking Lady Falcon rightfielder Jenette Rusia who came all the way from second base to the plate on a single by centerfielder Krisha Cantor, second to the last in Adamson’s order of hitters.
With one down — catcher Dely Covarrubias, Adamson’s number three batter and fourth of five whom the Tigresses fireball struckout – Antolihao gave Rusia free access to first base opening the gate for first basegirl Flor Pabiania to advance her to third on a standing double to right.
The Cebuana right-hand pitching machine then struckout designated player Gelyn Lamata drawing cheers from a handful of UST students watching the thriller and sensing game was over.
They were wrong. Cantor, only 18 from typhoon-prone Batanes, swung at Antolihao’s second pitch sending a hot grounder between the UST pitcher’s legs unto second base girl Hannah dela Torre’s gloves, not enough time to pick off Rusia who easily crossed the plate, gifting Adamson its seventh win in eight times up and keeping the title-defenders safe on top of the standing.
Only third placer National University (6-4 win-loss record) and La Salle (4-7) stand on the Lady Falcons’ way in their quest for the no.1 position going into the round of four where they only need to survive whichever emerges as no 4 after the two-round, seven-team eliminations.
The Tigresses, who dropped to 6-3, the Lady Bulldogs and the University of the East Lady Warriors (5-5) and even the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons are fighting it out for the next semis slots and the twice-to-beat bonus.
NU demolished La Salle, 10-4, while Ateneo finally barged into the win column following 10 earlier defeats by edging UE, 3-2, in an upset of sort in Monday’s other games where Lady Eagles head coach Randy Dizer stood on the field for the first time following a mild heart attack last month.
Basa and the Lady Falcons and Antolihao and the Tigresses fought evenly in the first four frames and UST even appeared to have gained the upper hand when they broke the ice at the top of the fifth where they scored the first run on a pair of singles aided by a base-on-balls.
Three consecutive hits—a two-base shot to left by Lamata and a single each by third base girl Michelle Padasas and Cantor—saw the two archrivals tied a 1-all.