University of Santo Tomas’ (UST) imperfect girl Mary Ann Antolihao pitched a near-perfect game in the Tigresses’ 3-0 blanking of Ateneo at the start of second round elimination of the UAAP women’s softball tournament on Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Baseball/Softball Stadium.
The right-hand throwing Cebuana fireball, who had just recovered from injury suffered last year in a losing title cause against eventual champion Adamson University, had all the 22 Ateneo batters she faced at her mercy, fanning out all of them, 13 via strikeouts, except one.
Antolihao, undisputedly the Tigressess’ finest hurler who is in her last year tour of duty at coach Sandy Barredo’s pitching rotation, had just retired the 12th hitter that crossed her path in the fifth frame when she hit Ateneo’s lead-off batter, catcher Jamie Luz San Juan, with a pitched ball
That ruined Antolihao’s bid for greatness and her first ever perfect no-hit, no-run, no error feat she could have attained in a five-year career
Antolihao, in fairness, atoned for that misdemeanor when she forced San Juan out in a double play after grounding out Isabela Cassandra Trinidad in the next play.
“Sayang, perfect game na sana,” rued tournament chief statistician Delia Pablo after the seven-inning contest. “But that’s how the cookie crumbles. Anyway, it was still brilliant performance by Antolihao.
“Bihira naman talaga ang nakaka-perfect game. For all we know, she didn’t even realized she was working for perfection until the game ended and she already failed,” Pablo, a many-time member of the Philippine Blu Girls while still playing, said.
Antolihao continued her mastery of the Lady Eagles’ hitters denying ng them access to the bases the rest of the way by retiring all the next 10 that came her way.
That was the Tigresses’ fifth win in seven times up as they remained the tram with the highest chance of denying the idle Lady Falcons of an eighth-peat, which they are seeking.
The Lady Eagles, on the other hand, have yet to score a victory after failing in their attempt, also in seven starts.
National University needed a run in the ninth and final third extension to repulse a stubborn University of the Philippines side. The win, the Bulldogs’ fourth disentangled them from a three-way tie for third to fifth positions in the seven-team standing.
University of the East, likewise, extricated themselves from that logjam by working behind a seven-hit attack in the fifth to deal La Salle its sixth defeat, 9-0 The Lady Warriors and he Lay Bulldogs remained tied in third and fourth places with identical 4-3 win-loss slates.
Whether UE can hold on to that position will be known though when it battles Adamson at 11 a.m. today as the race for semifinal round slots continued, also at the Rizal field that was built in 1934 as home for the 10th and last edition of the now-defunct Far Eastern Games baseball tournament..
NU can, most-likely, remain in third place having only winless Ateneo as rival in the 1 p.m. tail of a tripleheader. UP tangles with La Salle in the 9 a.m. opener of the day’s schedule.