If this game was to be the gauge for what to expect, the Adamson University Lady Falcons’ bid for a seventh straight crown will be an exciting one.
The defending UAAP Softball Champions showed vulnerability but were still able to overcome, turning the inexperience of the National University Lady Bulldogs against them in a 6-5, eighth inning win, Monday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium in Manila.
“Game one! Masyadong what a game,” quipped multi-time champion head coach Ana Santiago. “This year, expected ko na ganito mangyayari kasi yung mga veteran players ko nawala (Dimpo Benjamen, Queeny Sabobo, Krisna Paguican) while yung other teams nag-mature na.”
However, the big-game experience of the Lady Falcons proved to be the difference when it mattered.
With the game knotted at 5-all in the eighth inning and two outs and a runner for the Lady Falcons, a ground-out of Riezel Calumbres turned into a major break for Adamson. With the Lady Bulldogs’ defense going down, Kristine Acuna had a choice to put out another runner. However, her indecision turned into an overthrow on third base that led to the game-winning run for Angelie Ursabia.
“Yung breaks of the game na lang siguro yun. Nalito siguro sila sa situwasyon na yun. Mabuti na lang na-visualize din ng mga player ko yung nangyari. Talagang sila nag-decide nun, sila yung umangat,” Santiago reflected.
“Tutal, tabla, they took a risk and nag-pay off naman siya.”
Ursabia led Adamson’s comeback in the fifth inning that had seen them fall behind 2-5. Ursabia, who went 2-of-3 at-bat and had 2 RBIs, slammed a two-run homer to center field to cut the deficit. Second-year Lady Falcon Diana Balderama then knocked off a solo home run in the seventh inning to send the game into an extra inning.
“Sabi ko sa kanila, hindi pa tapos. Habang wala pang dine-declare na panalo, huwag kayong bibitaw,” Santiago added.
Lead-off batter Lorna Adorable added two runs, going 4-of-4 at-bat.
Princess Jurado (1-0) was able to hold the Lady Bulldogs for the first three innings. However, fatigue and errors by Adamson’s fielding led to a five-run inning for National U, in a rally capped by a Ghene Nietes 2-RBI double and a Mia Macapagal single to bring Nietes home.
“Ngayon, hindi na hitting ang laro. Defense wins the game. Ang dami naming error nung naka-score sila ng lima. Mga three or four yun. Yun yung naging problema namin,” Santiago said.
Reliever Riflayca Basa allowed just one hit the rest of the way. For NU, Macapagal (1-1) gave up five hits before being subbed out during the fifth inning.
“Maganda yung palitan ng pitchers namin. Maganda rin yung pinupukol ni Jurado kaso nga lang nag-eeror na kami. Positioning-wise nag-iikot at nag-aadjust pa rin kami,” Santiago remarked about the successors for former MVP Dimpo Benjamen.
Adamson had 10 hits in the game but a total of 13 runners were left on base. The game took 3 hours and 20 minutes to finish.
Adamson (1-0) next face the University of the East Lady Warriors (0-1) on Thursday, February 9, at 11am. NU (1-1) will have a five-day break before facing the same opponents on Saturday, February 11 at 9am.