Manila softbelles nip US side Indiana, sweep pool
TEAM Manila-Philippines leaned on the heroics of pitcher Riflayca Basa and Ma. Celestine Palma to slip past US Central Southbend-Indiana, 1-0, Friday and complete a sweep of Pool A in the 2015 Big League Softball World Series at Comisky Field in Lower Sussex, Delaware.
Thrust into the starting lineup in place of Mary Ann Antolihao, Basa shut down the Americans’ offense, yielding just four hits in seven innings as the Asia Pacific champions streaked to their third straight win in the prestigious tournament.
Palma, a member of the Blu Girls who ruled the 2015 Southeast Asian Games, delivered her second home run of the competition, belting a solo shot in the second inning which turned out to be the difference for the Manila softbelles, who are looking to reclaim the crown they last won in 2012 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Manila couldn’t add another run to its tally despite loading the bases in the sixth inning. Shaira Damasing, center fielder Cristy Joy Roa and Palma were stranded on base after Abigail Werner caught Florabelle Pabiania’s shot to left field for the final out.
“Indiana was expecting Mary Ann (Antolihao) to pitch, but they were surprised with Riflayca (Basa), who did a very good job,” said Manila coach Ana Santiago. “Now, the other teams know that our bench is actually deep with talent. We expect our other veterans to deliver in the next game.”
As the top Pool A team, the Manila softbelles arranged a semifinal showdown with US Southwest champion District 5-Louisiana, which yielded the No. 1 slot in Pool B after losing to host District 3, represented by Millsboro-Delaware, 5-11.
“It doesn’t matter now which team we would meet in the semifinals, but we will surely give them one hell of a fight,” added Manila Little League president Rafael “Che” Borromeo.
The winners of the crossover matches will square off for the Big League World Series championship on Sunday.