THE RP Blu Girls ended their campaign in the 11th Asian Women’s Softball Championship in Taichung City, Taiwan with a second-place finish that was capped by a triple header against powerhouse teams Japan, China, and Chinese Taipei. This marks the first time in 45 years that the country has bagged the silver in the tournament.
“Nobody expected us to be in the top three, so it’s a big accomplishment already,” noted team coach Randy Dizer. “It shows that the Blu Girls can compete among the best in the world and with the preparation that the team is doing and with the support that we have been getting from Jean Henri Lhuillier, I know the team is ready.”
With their podium finish, the Cebuana Lhuillier-backed Filipina softbelles have earned a slot in the 2018 WBSC Women’s World Softball Championship in Japan and the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, bringing them a step closer to their goal of being one of only six teams to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The 17th-ranked Blu Girls faced world number 6 China in the semifinals after demolishing Hong Kong, 17-0. Against the Chinese, the Filipinas were down 3-1 at the bottom of the last inning when Fil-Am Danny Gilmore hit a 2-run home run to tie the game, 3-3, and extend it to extra inning.
The Philippines held China scoreless on the top of the 8th with perfect pitching from Anne Antolihao before Chelsea Suitos and Sky Ellazar teamed-up to bring Cheska Altomonte home for the come-from-behind win.
In the playoff match, the Philippines faced world number 9 Chinese Taipei for the right to face world number 1 Japan. The hometown team easily built a commanding 3-1 lead in the first 4 innings before the Blue Girls came back with four runs in the fifth, capped by a home run by Chelsea Suitos for a 5-1 advantage.
The Philippines kept Chinese Taipei scoreless until the end, arranging a championship match against Japan later in the day. But fatigue caught up with the Blu Girls who eventually succumbed to the world number 1 team as they settled for a runner-up finish.