Unbeaten Manila softbelles gun for crown » Manila Bulletin Sports

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HEMET, CALIFORNIA — Team Manila-Philippines guns for the crown when it battles defending champion Central Hemet Xplozion today in the PONY International U-18 Girls Softball World Series at the sprawling Diamond Valley Park here.

Kevyn Lacson

Kevyn Lacson

The Big City Softbelles are coming off four consecutive wins to top its pool in the group competition, wrapping up their 4-0 run by clobbering the East Hemet Screaming Eagles, 10-0, in just four innings of the abbreviated game.

Standout pitcher Alma Tauli again delivered a sterling performance with four strikeouts and four no-run innings, her fourth in four consecutive matches, placing the 16-year-old stunner from Norzagaray, Bulacan as one of the best pitchers in the Series.

At the bottom of the first inning, shortstop Angelu Gabriel had a run off an RBI hit by center fielder Christine Bautista to put Manila in the lead, 1-0. Then, at the bottom of the second, right-fielder Khrisha Cantor and catcher Aliza Pichon both had one run each though a hit by left-fielder Jojielyn Lim to complete a two-run play for a 3-0 lead.

The Manila Batters, with support from Karen Solitaria, Norman Macasaet and Dr. Esteban Lacson, scored two more runs courtesy of third baseman Madaelene Dumaog and Cantor off an RBI by first baseman Kevyn Lacson, the 18-year-old standout from Ateneo, who also had a run off a hit by Lim at the bottom of the third.

Lim scored another run off a grounder by second baseman Nichole Padasas to make it 7-0 in the third, with Manila repulsing a strong effort at a comeback by the Californians behind Padasas and Lacson.

Three more runs were scored by Manila courtesy of Bautista off an RBI by second baseman Therese Macasaet, who in turn had a run off a hit by Cantor. A catching error then allowed Cantor to seal the match at the bottom of the fourth.

“Inaasahan natin na lahat ng players natin mag-step up sa finals dahil hindi natin pwedeng sayangin itong opportunity na ito; all out na tayo dito,” said coach Anna Santiago.

The Central Hemet Xplozion, which is one of the two host teams, won over 2017 West Zone champion San Bernardino Bombers in their semifinal match in Pool B to clinch the other finals berth, setting up the high noon encounter with Manila (3 a.m. Monday here).

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