“Wow grabe yung game. Great game!,” an exhasperated Adamson head coach Ana Santiago said about this classic encounter.
The five-time UAAP Softball Champions, the Adamson University Lady Falcons, needed a clutch performance from senior Krisna Paguican to stave-off the second-ranked National University Lady Bulldogs to keep the greatest streak in Philippine sports today intact.
After a scoreless opening inning, the bottom of the Adamson batting order delivered for the Ana Santiago-squad in the second inning. After a flyout of slugger Queeny Sabobo, a walk of Dimpo Benjamen and a single by Gelyn Lamata gave Adamson the first two bases. Adamson senior Krisna Paguican, who also came up big during the UAAP Season 77 Finals, then connected with a two-out double to center field that gave her team a 2-0 lead.
“Lagi ko sila nasesermonan dahil wala silang pinapalo. Laging ang bottom namin, matic three outs lagi. Pero this time, nag-deliver sila,” Santiago said about the lower end of her batting order.
Errors though marred the Adamson fielding during the second and third innings, the latter leading to a couple of runs for the Jhocson Street batters that tied the game. A base hit by lead-off batter Shaira Damasing and a throwing error at second base that favored Kristine Acuna gave NU two bases while a sacrifice fly by Colleen Alilin moved the two runners to prime real estate. Super rookie Aimee Watson then knocked a huge triple to right field that tied the game at two-all.
After coach Santiago huddled her troops, the defense did not allow any more hits the rest of the way. The defensive stance her team was greatly highlighted in the fourth inning with a double play that knocked off Geuillo and Damasing at second base.
During the same inning, Paguican broke the deadlock with a clutch single. With two outs and two runners at base, the Adamson senior knocked a single that grounded to right field paving the way for a Gelyn Lamata run.
The top of the Adamson batting order then provided the insurance runs during the final frame against a fatigued Mia Macapagal. Back-to-back singles by Riezel Calumbres and Lorna Adorable immediately gave Adamson two bases. A third consecutive hit, an Angelie Ursabia double, brought home lefty Calumbres.
In the next possession, the Lady Bulldogs went for an ouster of Adorable at home base. A throw by NU’s shortstop to catcher Alilin tried to stop Adorable. Adorable though spun away from the catcher and touched home that helped give Adamson a 5-2 win, the 67th straight for the Lady Falcons.
“Ito talaga yung best game ever for this season para sa amin. Classic game. Both teams talaga lumaban. Nagkaroon lang kami ng breaks,” Santiago remarked. “Laking bagay nung runs nung seventh inning, kanina last bat sila, nakadikit si Damasing. Yun yung nagbigay sa amin ng panalo.”
“Crucial talaga yung speed namin ngayon. Crucial yung ginawa ni Adorable, nasa shortstop lang yung bola tapos yung kay Calumbres talagang nag-fade away slide,” Santiago reflected about the highlight play of Adorable. “Talagang napakaganda, kung hindi siya nag fade out na siya. Yung presence of mind nila nandiyan.”
Looking forward, the Lady Falcon mentor remarked that the journey to a six straight crown will be a tough road especially in the second round. “Ang mga team kasi nag-adjust na yan at naglakasan pa. Dahan-dahan pang nawala yung mga members ng championship team. Hindi magiging ganun kadali. Ang kelangan namin ay yung focus at concentration lang one game at a time,” she closed.
Paguican, a big game player, was outstanding in going 1 of 3. She provided the RBI that broke the deadlock for the game. On the defensive end, Annalie Benjamen only gave up 3 hits in the game and struckout 7 batters.
The Adamson Lady Falcons close out the first round against the Ateneo Lady Eagles on Monday, February 15. The NU Lady Bulldogs finish the first round with a 5-1 slate.