Defense was the name of the game for last season’s third placers, the University of Santo Tomas Tiger Softbelles.
Third year Tigress Ann Antolihao fortified the UST fortress in their opening day shutout of the University of the East Lady Warriors, 4-0, early Saturday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
In the first four innings of the game, Antolihao knocked off four UE batters. Moreover, only four batters were able to reach the first base, with three coming from errors at first base.
During that span, sophomore Hannah dela Torre came from errors by the UE fielding. In addition, at the top of the second inning, Luisse Garde and CJ Roa reached third base, but the former was picked off while the latter was left on base.
The Diliman lady batters were able to notch another run at the top of the fourth inning coming from Roa. The UST junior had taken advantage of two passed balls committed by UE as the Tiger Softbelles struggled with their offense early on.
“Actually, wala pa sa condition yung mga bata e. We’re still working and working to improve our offense,” UST head coach Sandy Barredo remarked. “We actually focused on our defense. Buti na lang one error lang kami, from the first base.”
The Lady Warriors were only able convert on their only clean hit at the bottom of the fifth inning. With two outs, UE lead-off batter Lourdes Blanco was able to pop the ball to center field for a double. However, a fly out by Junaiza Jaspe left Blanco at second base. The UST Softbelle defense picked off the next UE batters with Antolihao striking out two.
The troubled UST offense were able to gain two more runs in the fifth inning. Lacupa was hit by a pitch by Lovely Redaja and was able to steal second base after. A single by Janah Hernandez paved the way for a Lacupa score. Hernandez was able to score a run of her own later in the inning.
“Si CJ Roa hindi pa lumalabas yung palo niya e. We still have to expect more from Roa, Mary Luisse Garde, and Hannah dela Torre,” Barredo said about his team’s struggles this game.
Antolihao was the rock of the UST defense, striking out six UE batters. Catcher Celestine Palma and first basewoman Mary Luisse Garde were able to put out five batters each in the UST stand.
After the game, Barredo added that the change in tournament schedule that increased the number of softball game days per week from two to three games hindered the team’s schedule. “Since nag-change yung schedule, it’s going to be three times a week na, so mawawalan na kami ng practice kasi naging Friday na lang,” he said about it. “Yung Monday and Wednesday na game day, yun na yun at wala ng training. We have to work on our offense.”
Looking forward to their Monday game against the defending five-time UAAP champions, the Adamson Lady Falcons, the head coach remarked, “What do you expect? Defending champion yun but yun yung magiging practice namin.”
“Let’s not hope na manalo, expect na lang namin na we will give our best.”
On the other hand, the UE Lady Warriors next face the La Salle Softbelles on Monday, February 1 at 1:00pm.