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With 5 UAAP teams left, how can softball grow, asks Ana Santiago

It felt like a huge family reunion last Saturday at UP Diliman’s Baseball Field.

After four years, the UAAP Softball Tournament finally returned.

And no one was happier than Adamson head coach Ana Santiago, who is also an assistant coach in the RP Blu Girls program.

“Siyempre masayang masaya kami kasi sobrang miss na namin yung UAAP,” said the decorated head coach, who steered Adamson to nine straight UAAP titles.

“Every year, pinagdadasal namin ito kasi yung mga players, naggra-graduate na lang kahit di nakakalaro.”

But unlike the last time out, the field got smaller due to the pandemic.

There are only five universities competing this season after National University and University of the East disbanded their softball programs.

Santiago was able to scoop up three former Lady Bulldogs in pitcher Glory Alonzo, first baseman Elsie Dela Torre, and third baseman Neomay Mahinay.UAAP85-Softball-Elsie-Dela-Torre-7801250 With 5 UAAP teams left, how can softball grow, asks Ana Santiago AdU News Softball UAAP  - philippine sports news

Of course, Santiago is glad that she now has the luxury of depth for this season.

“As a senior and a player sa national team, talagang mas nagkaroon kami ng leader at mas naging intact depensa namin dahil kay Elsie,” said Santiago as Dela Torre played a crucial role in Adamson’s 2-1 come-from-behind win over University of Santo Tomas on opening day.

However, Santiago acknowledged that though they somewhat benefited from the loss of NU and UE, it came at the expense of the sport.UAAP85-Softball-Adamson-7801256 With 5 UAAP teams left, how can softball grow, asks Ana Santiago AdU News Softball UAAP  - philippine sports news

For the past few years, all UAAP schools are well-represented in both the RP Blu Girls and, later on, the Women’s National Baseball Team.

Prior to the pandemic, the Blu Girls are even ranked 13th in the world but due to inactivity dropped to 30th.

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So how can the program rise once more if the pool of players have dwindled down?

“Siyempre, malaki yung pagkakaiba ngayon. Ang nakakalungkot lang is mas kumaunti yung team. Siyempre, mahal natin yung softball,” said Santiago as each team is now forced to play one double-header per round due to the odd number of squads.

“As much as possible, gusto natin mabuhay yung sport at para mabuhay yung sport, gusto natin na at least lahat ng university may team. Mas masaya, mas mag-eenjoy lahat, at mas makikilala yung sport pag kumpleto tayo dito.”

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