In what could be her last time facing off against her former team, one-and-done Lady Falcon Arianne Vallestero helped the Adamson University clinch top seed at the expense of her former team, the National University Lady Bulldogs, with a 9-2 4th inning mercy rule triumph, Thursday.
With a 9-1 slate, the Lady Falcons will enter the Final Four of the UAAP Season 81 Softball tournament as the top seed – a place the defending champions have held for the last nine years.
“At least, top seed kami ngayon. Ang mentality namin ngayon is mag-prepare para sa semis,” said decorated head coach Ana Santiago.
For the second straight game – or since losing a 0-3 decision to the UP Lady Maroons last Saturday – Santiago tinkered with her batting order, with Vallestero being set as the lead-off batter. The national team stalwart ended up going 1-of-2 at-bat while punching in two runs.
“Sinabi ko naman sa kanila, kasi wala na ako gaanong sinasabi sa kanila para hindi magulo isip nila – ang importante ay kung paano nila matutulungan yung isa’t isa. And para makatulong sila, it’s about hitting. For the past few days, dun kami nag-work out,” added Santiago, as her team peppered NU pitchers Mean Ramos, Grace Molinas, and Elsea dela Torre with 11 hits.
But it was not just Vallestero who was able to pick it up with the change.
Second batter and second baseman MJ Maguad went 3-of-3 at-bat, tallying two runs and two RBIs. UAAP Season 80 Finals MVP Jenette Rusia, who was dropped to fifth batter, had three RBIs as well.
And by the way things are going, it seems that Rusia has taken this challenge to heart.
“Sabi ko sa kanya, bumababa yung performance niya. Ang importante naman is hindi bumababa yung confidence niya. Kailangan she will always believe na makakatulong siya sa team,” Santiago said about the left fielder Rusia.
Best pitcher-favorite Lyca Basa was once again superb on the mound, striking out four fourth-inning weathering a fourth inning NU surge that was sparked by a Mary Ramos triple.
NU dropped to a tie with UP for the last Final Four slot, as both teams are sporting 5-5 slates. This is the Lady Bulldogs’ third straight loss.
Adamson look to continue their momentum when they face the DLSU Green Batters on Saturday, March 16. NU, on the other hand, hope to keep their Final Four hopes alive when they take on the University of Santo Tomas on the same day.