To start the season, defending, eight-time champions Adamson University Lady Falcons invoked the Troy Rike-rule.
Former NU Lady Bulldog Arianne Vallestero returned to the UAAP after four years this season.
During her short-lived two-year stay – technically three years – in Sampaloc, she was able to reach the Finals during her rookie season. However, after her sophomore year, she did not suit up even if she was part of the line-up.
Two years after finishing her degree, Vallestero decided to go to Adamson to have one last crack at gold.
“Two years lang siya naglaro sa NU. Tumigil siya nung third year tapos tinapos niya yung course na lang niya,” shared Adamson head coach Ana Santiago.
“Gusto kong makatikim ng championship. Nung nasa NU kasi ako, hanggang finals lang narating ko,” lamented Vallestero.
“So, sabi ng iba, wise decision daw ito.”
The now-23-year-old was supposed to play for Adamson last season. However, fate chose otherwise.
“Gusto ko talaga maging teacher. Eh sa Adamson, may pre-masteral teaching degree kaya kinuha ko na,” shared Vallestero, who also focused with the RP Blu Girls.
“Actually, blessing sa amin na ngayong taon naglaro si Arianne. Dapat last year siya maglalaro, kaso hindi ko siya na-enroll kagad,” added Santiago.
“Yung pinaka-reason pala behind it kasi mas kailangan namin siya this year kesa last year.”
In her first game back last February 18, the native of Baras, Rizal admitted that she felt embarrassed.
“Nung first game lalo nahiya ako kasi twenty-three years old, nandito pa ako.”
But as the season progressed, Vallestero managed to regain her groove. More importantly, she was able to provide leadership to the young Adamson Lady Falcons – something the defending champions badly needed for the season.
“Alam ko pong maraming mawawala sa kanila. Pero three years ago, hindi pa ko nakaka-decide nun,” admitted Vallestero.
“Pero gusto ko talagang makatikim ng championship.”
In Game One of the best-of-three UAAP Season 81 Softball Finals, Vallestero provided the spark for the Lady Falcons, going 2-of-3 at-bat for a run and an RBI.
“Sobrang thankful talaga ako na sa amin siya pumunta kahit maraming lumalapit sa kanya,” said Santiago.
“Sa isang taon na kasama namin siya, talagang pinakita niya na mahal niya yung Adamson.”
And on Tuesday, Vallestero can finally have the happy ending she badly wants.