Team Manila softbelles lose to Delaware in 2011 Big LeagueBy Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA—The task of winning the Big League Softball World Series just got more difficult for Team Manila.
The Manila softbelles bowed to US East squad Delaware, 4-8, Monday, making their last-day duel with formidable Puerto Rico a do-or-die affair in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Delaware, parading almost the same team that the Philippines faced in the Senior League World Series two years ago, scored four runs at the top of the seventh inning to deal Manila, the Asia Pacific champions, its second defeat of the tournament.
The stunning defeat came a day after Manila overpowered host Kalamazoo, 10-1.
With the loss, Manila fell to a three-team logjam at second with a 6-2 record, like Kalamazoo and Delaware.
US Central of Grand Rapids, Michigan, which Manila defeated 4-1 Sunday, is on top with a 6-1 record. But they play twice on Tuesday – against Puerto Rico and US East team Florida.
The Manila softbelles, who did not field ace pitcher Veronica Belleza against Delaware, were to face Puerto Rico (5-2) at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday (Tuesday 11:30 p.m. in Manila) in a virtual knockout match.
A win could shove Manila to at least a possible three-way tie for second. Ties are first determined by the winner-over-the-other rule. If the rule is not applicable, the team with the least runs given up will advance.
Annalie Benjamen led Manila’s early surge with a two-run homerun in the second inning and the Asia Pacific winners looked comfortable when they carried a 4-2 advantage heading into the fifth frame.
Asia Brittingham proved to be the thorn on the Manila girls’ side as she belted two two-run homeruns in the 5th and 7th innings off Rissa Bernardino that boosted Delaware to victory.
Despite the loss, coaches Ana Santiago and Randy Dizer are still optimistic that the Manila softbelles, managed by councilor Che Borromeo, will make the finals for the third time in four years.
“This tournament is far from over for us,” they said. “Everything is still up for grabs and we will try to win the title to prove that the Philippines is a strong country.”
Santiago and Dizer said Delaware’s performance showed the quality of teams in the tournament.
“This goes to show the quality of the teams in this World Series,” they said. “The players here are among the best players in the world and the Philippines is also among them. Many of these girls are going to play with scholarships in the top colleges in the USA.”
Though they did not reveal who, Dizer said one of the Manila players has been offered a scholarship to play for Michigan.