The Philippine Blu Girls lost to defending champion Japan, 2-9, at the start of the Super Round of the 19th Asian Games women’s softball held at the Shaoxing Baseball & Softball Sports Centre-Softball Field 1.
They staged a remarkable comeback after Japan grabbed an early 3-0 lead.
This prompted the Philippines to make a swift change on the mound, substituting starter Ann Antolihao with the talented Kikay Palma, who had recently pitched a one-hit shutout to secure their spot in the super round with a 5-0 victory over South Korea.
The Blu Girls fought valiantly and narrowed the deficit to 3-2 during the second inning. Sky Ellazar dashed home from third base on a balk, and Charlotte Sales delivered a clutch single to bring Alaiza Talisik across the plate.
The most significant opportunity arose in the third inning when MJ Maguad singled and Nicole Hammoude hammered a hit to right field, which bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double, positioning both runners in scoring position with only one out.
However, Japan responded by replacing their starter, Sakura Miwa, with relief pitcher Yukiko Ueno, who promptly struck out Talisik and CJ Roa to escape the jam.
In the fifth inning, Maguad singled with two outs and showcased her speed by stealing second base during Hammoude’s at-bat, putting herself in a prime position to score on a base hit.
Despite the final score, the Blu Girls’ head coach Ana Santiago expressed her satisfaction with her team’s performance.
“It was still a great game, with a score of two to three until the fifth inning and seven hits. The team’s confidence remains high, and it’s worth noting that Japan fielded its top pitcher in the Olympics,” Santiago remarked.
Now, with their sights set on the bronze medal, the Blu Girls, with support from the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee, will face off against the reigning silver medalists, Chinese Taipei, at 3:15 p.m. on Saturday.