CLARK FREEPORT—Iloilo province finally reaped the reward of hard work the past couple of years yesterday as it became the first Philippine team to clinch a World Series berth by topping the Little League softball event of the Asia Pacific and Middle East Championships here.
Underlining the country’s dominance of the girls’ 11-12 division, the Iloilo softbelles blanked Indonesia, 10-0, yesterday to complete a sweep of their best-of-five series.
Except for Game 2 Tuesday when Iloilo needed to toil for a 10-6 win, the series was a mismatch with Iloilo also asserting its superiority with a 23-0 victory in the series opener.
Iloilo will represent Asia Pacific in the Little League World Series—a tournament that the country has never won—in Portland, Oregon, starting Aug. 8.
“We saw a lot of potential in this team when we started the program two years ago and we’re happy they we’re able to fulfill it,” said Iloilo coach Guy Fuentes, who steered Bacolod to the 2003 Junior League crown.
Iloilo, however, needs to scrounge for funds to augment the cost of the trip. One of the team’s consultants, Tony Oquindo, estimates the team will need P600,000. As champion of a bracket which only has a couple of teams competing, Little League International will only subsidize half of the team’s airfare to Oregon.
Royeve Palma struck out six batters and yielded just one hit. Iloilo cashed in on the 16 walks issued by Chantique Milenissa to score four runs in the first frame and six more in the third.
The Iloilo girls’ highlighted a triumphant day for the Philippines in softball with reigning Big League World Series champion Manila South and Santa Cruz, Laguna, strengthening their title bids.
Manila blasted Indonesia, 33-1, to hold fort in the three-nation, double round-robin battle for the APME 16-18. The Manileñas only need to replicate their wins over Indonesia and Guam to reclaim the title and book a return trip to the World Series.
Santa Cruz fashioned out a 30-3 triumph over Indonesia to also move within a couple of wins off the title in the Senior League 14-16 category, while Iloilo province routed Indonesia, 18-3, in Junior League play.