Smokey Mountain belles reach World Series
A FEW years ago, they didn’t even have a place to play. Now, they’re off to the World Series.
What started as a dream will soon become a reality for Smokey Mountain’s hardy bunch of softball players.
The Smokey Mountain softbelles completed their remarkable run from an obscure, struggling team to Senior League Asia Pacific champions with a gripping 11-10 victory over Guam Thursday at Clark Parade Grounds in Angeles City, Pampanga.
Mary Joy Tabanes belted a three-run home run in the bottom of the third inning to key Smokey Mountain’s comeback from a four-run deficit and allowed the Filipinos to wrap up the best-of-five series at 3-1.
Tabanes drove home Madeline Villamor and Lovely Ridaya as Smokey Mountain responded emphatically after he Guamanians erupted with six runs at the top of the third. Smokey Mountain loaded the bases in the seventh inning, with Grace Malalon stealing home and Ella Martinez scoring the winning run on a Guam error.
“Winning the championship was a bonus after all the hard work we have put in,” said Smokey Mountain coach Manny Llave, a Physical Education teacher at Antonio Villegas High School where majority of the girls come from. “We give the honor to God.”
Llave’s players were among those who benefited from the field that was constructed at Smokey Mountain four years ago with the help of Little League Philippines and Gawad Kalinga as well as other civic groups.
The victory gave Smoke Mountain the right to represent the region in the Little League Senior Softball World Series slated Aug. 3 to 9 in Sussex County, Delaware.
The Philippines remains in contention for two more crowns with International Little League Association of Manila also in the hunt in the Junior League baseball tournament after subduing Guam, 7-4.
In Minor League play, Tanauan overcame Illam, 12-7, for its third win. The two PH teams will square off for a place in the finals Friday. Cedelf P. Tupas