The National University Lady Bulldogs made their UAAP softball return two years ago. They were the Cinderella team during the 75th season of the league as the team ended up placing second in the tournament, bowing to eventual champions Adamson University.
Two years later, after two back-to-back second place finishes, the team is no longer viewed as the underdogs but as one of the favorites to win it all this season. The National University Lady Bulldogs wasted no time in the opening game of Season 77, beating the Ateneo Lady Batters 15-5 in six innings last Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
NU’s Kristine Acuña, 2nd in the batting order for the Lady Bulldogs, immediately batted a double in the opening inning of the season. A base hit by Whell Nietes opened the opportunity for Acuña to score a run for NU. Runs from 3rd year batters Nietes and Shaira Damasing extended the NU lead to 3-0 in the 1st inning.
The top of the 2nd inning saw another blitz by the NU Lady Bulldogs. Colleen Alilin churned in a single right off the bat. Soon after, Alilin scored a run with Lovely Arago, Acuña, and Nietes loaded up on the bases. Damasing then homered deep into center field to push the NU lead to 8-0. Lady Batters’ pitcher Eunice Nevalga struggled in the 1st two innings, in giving up eight runs in nine hits, with seven of those runs coming from earned runs (ER).
With the NU Lady Bulldogs up by eight at the bottom of the 2nd, the Lady Batters from Katipunan played with a sense of urgency. Catalina Altomonte hit a single in her first at bat followed by another long single by Katrina Villa-Real that let Altomonte secure 3rd base. A bunt by Maria Isabel Gutierrez placed the Lady Batters on the scoreboard 1-0, and a sacrifice bunt by Angela Natividad led to another run scored for the blue and white squad. The NU Lady Bulldogs subbed starting pitcher Damasing for sophomore Mia Macapagal. With Natividad and Parma out, Gutierrez and Shereen Salvatierra scored runs to trim the deficit to just four.
The batting of NU overpowered the Ateneo defense in the top of the 4th with Damasing and Charleslyn Tulalian scoring. In the 6th inning, the Lady Bulldogs extended the lead further with Julie Tungol, Baby Gequillo, Sheenah Rayos, Carla Payapaya, and Arago scoring. A score by Natividad at the bottom of the 6th was too late for the Lady Batters as the 10-point deficit resulted in a mercy rule win.
The Lady Bulldogs were at bat 40 times in this game compared to just 24 for the Lady Batters. The stingy defense of the Lady Bulldogs gave up just six hits in the six innings of this game.
Damasing led the way for the Lady Bulldogs with three runs and four hits including 1 HR and 4 RBI’s. NU pitcher Macapagal gave up only one run against 16 batters, striking-out two and committing no errors.
The Lady Bulldogs’ next game will be on Saturday, January 31 against the UE Lady Warriors while the ADMU Lady Batters will face the UE Lady Warriors on Wednesday, January 28.