The National University Lady Bulldogs had been pegged to slay the streak of the Adamson University Lady Falcons last season. However, the lady batters from Jhocson Street failed to meet expectations and finished the tournament at fourth place.
Needing a fresh new start, National University tapped former national team player Edgar Delos Reyes as head coach. During his first day on the job, Delos Reyes and the Lady Bulldogs blew past the De La Salle University Lady Batters, 10-2, in an abbreviated fifth inning win late Saturday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Mia Macapagal and last season’s revelation, Jamica Arribas, both shut out the batters they faced in the opening inning of the game. However, Arribas’ pitching went wide in the following inning, which the Lady Bulldogs exploited.
With one out and the bases loaded at the top of the second inning, Colleen Alilin blasted a huge double into center field that led to runs scored for rookie Aimee Watson, Charles Tulalian, and Baby Guquillo. A single by Nicolelyn Ordoyo gave National U two bases once more, while lead-off batter Dyan Arago knocked-off another double for two more runs. Another double to centerfield Kristine Acuna gave the Jhocson Street lady batters a 6-0 lead going into the bottom of the second inning. Arribas was switched to right field during the rally and was replaced by rookie Lalaine Cunanan.
“We spent more time in team bonding to familiarize with each other para mawala yung (separation) between the seniors and the freshmen,” Delos Reyes said about the familiarity displayed by his team. “Talagang we made it sure na at home sila sa isa’t isa and they belong to one family.”
The Lady Bulldogs were able to extend the lead at the top of the fourth inning behind runs by Ordoyo and Arago to extend the lead to 8-0. However, at the bottom of the inning, Arribas and Pat Belarmino were able to gain back those two runs and cut the lead back to six runs, 8-2, entering the fifth inning.
Rookie Aimee Watson immediately popped a single to center field to open the fifth inning. This was followed by a double by Tulalian that paved the way for Watson’s second run of the game. With just a single out in the inning, Colleen Alilin grounded a triple to right field that led to the Lady Bulldogs’ tenth run of the game.
Needing two runs two avoid a mercy rule loss, Vanessa Borbon was hit by a pitch and stole second base. Replacement pitcher Rina Vailoces though was able to strikeout Jen Gomez while Hya Abanilla’s flyball was caught at third base.
“Sabi ko sa kanila na you treat each team parang a championship game,” Delos Reyes said about his team. “Whether it’s the first game of the first round or the finals, we need to start and finish strong.”
“Ganun pa rin dapat yung consideration namin sa teams, parang championship.”
Mia Macapagal did not commit any errors in the game, but gave up six hits. Macapagal’s outing was credited to the NU officials having retained former head coach Hernando Posadas as the team’s pitching coach. “Malaking bagay kasi na nandito pa rin si coach mas lalo na sa mga pitchers namin. When I was offered this job, ang sabi ko is I needed a good pitching coach,” he said about his co-league. “He’s one of the best Filipino pitchers we ever produced. Malaking tulong siya sa amin.”
On offense, senior Colleen Alilin had an excellent offensive game with 4 RBI’s and two hits, a double and a triple. Rookie Aimee Watson had two runs and two hits (1B and 3B) in her first ever UAAP game.
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