Softbelles yield to top seed Japan
Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - August 22, 2018 - 12:00am

Still on course for top 2

JAKARTA – The in-form Philippine Blu Girls assured themselves of a place in the Page System semis of the Asian Games softball competitions after extracting their third straight win at the expense of China, 1-0, Monday night at GBK Softball Field in Jakarta.

However, with the loss to top seed Japan, 1-11, yesterday, Japan gained the automatic semis entry while the Pinays went down to second and have to sweep their double-header today for a guaranteed podium finish.

Japan remained unbeaten with a 4-0 record while the Philippines was second with 3-1. China and Chinese Taipei, joint third-fourth with 2-1, were slugging it out for third place late last night.

Getting a Top 2 seed is important as it gives the team two chances go reach the gold medal match. Under the Page System format, winner of the duel between the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds advances to the finals while the loser gets another crack, facing the victor of the playoff between the third and fourth seeds for the second finals berth.

Hailey Decker hit a triple then dashed home off a single by Garie Blando in the fifth inning to lead the streaking Blu Girls to victory No. 3 that catapulted them to the top of the standings with a 3-0 card before their loss to defending champion Japan.

The Blu Girls try to stamp their class against the lowly Indonesians at 12:30 p.m. then go for an upset against Chinese Taipei at 8 p.m. for a sure place in the Top Two.

Ezra Jalandoni allowed only two hits while striking out five Chinese batters in a splendid starting job before she was relieved by Sierra Lange against the last two batters in the seventh frame to anchor a stifling defensive effort for Phl, which boosted its medal bid in the quadrennial games.

The conquest of China completed a sweep of the double-header assignment for the Pinay clouters, who just five hours earlier outclassed South Korea, 5-3, in the afternoon hostilities. The twin victories kept the streak they started with an 8-0 shutout of Hong Kong Sunday.

“Our Blu Girls’ three successive wins against Hong Kong, Korea and powerhouse China is a testament to the talent and dedication of our women’s softball team. They have what it takes to deliver a podium finish for the Philippines,” said Amateur Softball Association of the Philippines president Jean Henri Lhuillier.

The Blu Girls are aiming to medal after falling a win short of the bronze in the 2014 edition.

“The worst scenario then would be a bronze medal,” said coach Randy Dizer in their bid for a spot in the Top Two in the Page playoff system.

The team drew confidence from its silver medal feat in the Asian Women’s Softball Championship last year in Taiwan, where they lost to the powerhouse Japanese in the finals.

The Blu Girls have been an amazing bunch here with the lineup being primed up to qualify for the return of softball in the 2020 Olympics.

From their strong showings in the 2017 World Cup of Softball in Oklahoma and in the Canada Cup Softball Championship, the Blu Girls have remained in top form as seen in their opening-game rout of Hong Kong and in their sweep of their Monday double-header versus Korea and China. – With reports from Olmin Leyba

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