The Philippine women’s softball team engaged the higher ranked New Zealand squad into a defensive game and prevailed, 1-0, to earn a spot in the Super Round (final four) at the WBSC Softball Asia/Oceania Qualifier on Thursday at the Shanghai Chongming Sports Training Center.
With the score tied at zero-all in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Blu Girls committed back-to-back catching errors and barely missed a double play in the next play to send New Zealand’s Mareana Makea in scoring position at third base.
But pitcher Ann Antolihao struck out Hailey Breakwell to close the inning and save the day for the Cebuana Lhuillier-backed Blu Girls.
Both teams, however, failed to score in the seventh inning and the International Tie Break rule for softball was applied.
In the eighth inning, outfielder Chelsea Suitos hit a single to right field that sent Sierra Lange home, giving the Philippines a 1-0 lead.
The Blu Girls continued to play well defensively in the bottom of the eighth and prevented the No. 11 ranked New Zealand from scoring until the final out.
“I’m ecstatic that the Blu Girls were able to bounce back and win against New Zealand. It just goes to show you how talented our team is and how determined they all are at making our countrymen proud! Let’s hope that the team continues to win and earn that much coveted Olympic spot,” said Amateur Softball Association of the Philippines (ASAPHIL) president Jean Henri Lhuillier.
The 13th ranked Philippines finished at second place in Group B with a 2-1 win-loss record. It will advance into the Super Round (final four) along with Group B tormentor China and the top two teams from Group A, No. 7 ranked Australia and No. 6 Chinese Taipei.
All four teams will carry over the result of the games played against each other giving the Blu girls a 0-1 record in the Super Round.
The top team in the tournament will gain the sixth and final berth for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Japan claimed the first spot as host of the Games. USA got the second berth as the 2018 WBSC world champion followed by Italy, the Europe/Africa Olympic qualifier winner.
The next two slots were secured by Mexico and Canada from the WBSC Softball Americas Olympic Qualifier.