They might have lost captain and three-time UAAP Best Pitcher Ann Antolihao, but the mix of seniors and rookies – led by graduating catcher Tin Palma – towed the University of Santo Tomas Tiger Softbelles to an opening day win.
Last year’s silver medalists shut down the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles, 5-0, to kick off their UAAP Season 81 campaign, Saturday morning at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
Palma scored to of the five runs produced by the Tigresses while driving in two as well off a two-RBI homer in her first hit of the season. The Blu Girls reserve ended with two hits in four at bats.
UST took the lead at 2-0 in the second inning after going scoreless in the first frame. Palma crossed home off a catching error with Trisha Tiozon attempt. Tiozon then doubled the lead off another Ateneo miscue. In the third inning, senior Hannah Dela Torre and rookie Charlotte Sales stepped on the bases on scoring positions to set up for that booming hit from Palma to the left field.
Fortunately for the Lady Eagles, their defense was able to limit their opponents to just three more hits in the last four innings. Nonetheless, the Tomasinas did their own part in the field to seal the opening day win.
Losing most of their key players from last year, UST had to start from scratch.
“Malaki talagang adjustment because I have eleven rookies,” shared head coach Sandy Barredo. “Mostly pitchers ko puro rookies. Tapos yung mga beterano ko hindi nagde-deliver eh. Buti na lang naka-home run si Palma.”
For the seasoned mentor, where they will end up this season is up to the Tigresses’ performance come game time. “Depende na lang sa lalaruin ng mga bata.
“Yung rookie pitcher ko si [Irene] Lumanas maganda naman yung pinukol pero nung fourth inning eh, tinatamaan na, so hindi pa pwedeng pandiin ng seven innings. Tapos yung backup pitcher ko si [Celyn] Ojare, tinatamaan din. Eh Ateneo lang yan, baka kapag mas malalakas na kalaban ko, liparan nang liparan yan,” the UST lifer added.
The Tigresses will take a bye on Monday and will face the on the National University Lady Bulldogs on Thursday, February 21, at 9 a.m. Meanwhile, the Lady Eagles will battle the same team prior on Monday, February 18, at 1 p.m.
UST – 023 000 0 – 5 4 4
ADMU – 000 000 0 – 0 4 4