Little League real shockerBy Beth Celis
Philippine Daily Inquirer
RUFFY Ignacio labeled the feat “A real shocker” in Little League (Junior Ladies) World Series Softball.
Ruffy is the Seattle-based secretary general of the PBA Legends Foundation USA headed by chair Abe King also based in Washington.
“The Asia-Pacific team, represented by a provincial squad from Iloilo, shocked everyone here in Kirkland, Washington, by beating the No. 1 seed (East USA represented by New Jersey) in the quarterfinals, 12-11. The Philippines was seeded No. 8 after the week-long qualifying games.”
“New Jersey, on the other hand, was toting a clean 4-0 slate going into the quarterfinals. Although much taller, bulkier and more confident, they were stunned by the smaller but speedier and tempo hit-conscious Pinays. The girls from New Jersey were crying when the game was over.”
The 10-team cast also include Italy, Mexico, California, Florida, Ohio, Washington, Canada and Texas.
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“The Filipinos found their bearings only after their initial jet-lagged games. They lost to USA regional champion Florida, 5-16, in their first assignment because our top four players arrived from Manila barely three hours before game time, while the rest flew in only two days prior to competition.
On the other hand, our opponents had the time to rest, acclimatize and adjust because they got to the venue several days in advance and were booked in comfortable 5-star hotels,” Ruffy reported.
The Philippines beat Canada, 24-4, but lost a heartbreaker against Ohio 0-1 on a technicality. Ruffy said the tying run was on third but the PH runner was declared out after failing to step on the second base. “Tough luck on a late call by the umpire,” he said.
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But one thing going for the Pinays, according to Ruffy, is the full support from fellow-Filipinos living in and around the area, game in and game out, win or lose.
“It’s like a town fiesta every time there’s a Philippine game. The Ilongos here take pride in preparing famous dishes from their province and they don’t mind spending for this. After the game, kainan na (eating time). The feast is for everybody—the athletes and the audience alike,” Ruffy related.
“Many of the players have confided that the food they have eaten here is the best they have tasted in their young lives. They are kids aged 12 -14, children of fishermen, farmers, hacienda workers, jeepney drivers and laborers in Iloilo.”
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As I write this, Ruffy said the scrappy Filipinos should be playing their semifinal game against Italy or Washington.
“We are good, but we also have to be lucky. If we are both, then we should win and proceed to the championship. We don’t know yet who we will be up against, if ever.”
The championship game will be played today, Sunday Manila time and televised on ESPN.
“Let’s pray for the success of the Asia-Pacific team from Iloilo, Philippines, as it fights to bring honor to the country,” Ruffy said.
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