Power hitting, flawless defense and aggressive base-running gave the Philippine Blu Girls a surprisingly lopsided 10-1 victory over South Korea on Tuesday in Group A, opening their quest for an unprecedented seat in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in women’s softball.
The Blu Girs pummelled the Koreans with 10 hits, a pair each from second basegirl Skylynne Elleazar, first basegirl Lauren Young and designated playeer Reese Guevarra as they practically shot the lights out of the Shanghai Sports Training Center diamond in scoring their first win in the World Baseball/Softball Confederation qualifying tournament there.
Elleazar, a product of University of Maryland, Young of the University Arizona and Guevarra of the University of Connecticut, three of the seven Filipino-Americans, batted in a run each as they more than justified their selection to reinforce the Blu Girls in the country’s bid for a first ever Olympic appearance.
And while Elleazar, Young, Guevarra and teammates were feasting on four Korean pitchers all afternoon long, Ann Antolihao and Sierra Lange, another Fil-Am from George Washington University, strangled all Korean batters to just four connections, including one in the fourth inning that accounted for the enemies’ solitary run.
The triumph came as an affirmation of the Blu Girls’ mastery of the Koreans, who, for almost a decade haven’t won over the Filipinas in any Asian or world-level plays.
“The PH Blu Girls’ victory today is a win for all Filipinos. They have sacrificed long and hard for this tournament to bring honor to our country and to revive our people’s love and interest for softball. I call on our countrymen to pray for the PH Blu Girls in their quest for an Olympic spot,” Amateur Softball Association of the Philippines and Cebuana Lhuillier President and CEO Jean Henri Lhuillier said Tuesday night upon learning of the girls’ win.
“The team played fearless defense, not a single error was made. Overall, it was a combination of good pitching and good hitting. The team stayed focused for the task at hand then at the same time, we are gearing for the next game against host China,” head coach Randy Dizer, for his part said.
“Let’s just hope and pray that this victory would set the tone of our campaign to give our country a chance to play in the Olympic Games in the sport of softball. We have a rich winning tradition in softball where we, once finished third in the world,” Dizer recalled in reference to the Philippines’ bronze medal wind up in the 1970 World Championship in Osaka, Japan.
Lhuillier, meanwhile flew to Shanghai Tuesday to lend moral support to the team’s crucial meeting with China afternoon of Wednesday. The Filipinas, ranked 13th in the world, and the Chinese, rated slightly higher at sixth, were still playing at press time.
The Koreans actually sent five runners on bases, including three hits off Antolihao and a pair of base-on-balls in her three-inning starting job, but stranded all of them on where they managed to reach. Antolihao and Lange struckout thee Korean batters each.
A double by Chelseas Suitos that produced two runs in the second frame was actually all the Blu Girls needed in deciding the outcome as they roared, 2-0, in what turned out unreachable for the Koreans to surmount.
The Filipinas came out swinging for two more markers in fifth on a solitary hit aided by Koreans’ errors before finally fending their rivals’ hopes with a eighty five-hit, five-run finishing kick in the sixth.
Also contributing to the Blu Girls offense were centerfielder Angelu Ursabia, who had two RBIs, and catcher and team captain Cheska Altamonte, whose single accounted for a run.
The Chinese, mangled New Zealand, 8-3 in another Group A match up that was duplicated by Australia’s 5-1 upset of Chinese Taipei, and Hong Kong’s thumping of Indonesia in Group B plays.