Photo by: Jempoy Pimentel
The De La Salle University (DLSU) Lady Batters held a twice-to-beat advantage in the semis and were in fact one win away from claiming at least a silver medal in the UAAP Season 81 Softball Tournament. However, back-to-back losses against the UST Golden Tigresses not only prevented them from advancing to the championship round, but ultimately put a dot in their campaign.
Eager to bounce back from their Game 1 defeat, they held UST scoreless in the first inning, and even drew first blood in the second inning with two runs. From there on, however, doors were shut by the Golden Tigresses.
Head coach Jasper Cabrera admitted that the opponents were quick to check La Salle’s pitches. “Pinaghandaan talaga nila si Kiana (Juan). Tumama agad sila.” On the other hand, his players could not return the favor in their offense. “Kami naman, hindi naman nagclick yung batting namin.”
Third place: Bonus, big achievement
Regardless of the elimination, the Lady Batters definitely made a huge run in Season 81. Their 8-6 overall win-loss record catapulted them to the podium at third place, three places higher compared to Season 80 and clearly their best record in years. Their season was highlighted by a 3-0 start and a near sweep of the second round.
“Kalat na kalat tayo noon. Binuo lang natin yan,” Cabrera reminded the Lady Batters as they dealt with lineup problems, converting players from one position to another prior the tournament. He was beyond satisfied with what the outcome.
The Cebuano coach commended his veterans, led by Bacolod-native team captain Jamica Arribas, while also mentioning some of his rookies. “Maganda ang ginagawa nila (Arribas) this season. Yung rookies naman, nagdeliver talaga.”
The soft-spoken tactician reiterated, “Mataas na sa amin actually yung third place. Top four lang naman (ang goal namin), pero bonus na yung naging third place.”
The Lady Batters also received heaps of praises from no less than DLSU Office of Sports Development (OSD) Executive Director Emmanuel Calanog. The former Green Batter, who also happened to be a team manager of the Lady Batters, affirmed, “As long as you put in the work today and masasabi niyo sa sarili niyo na nagawa niyo ang lahat, whatever the result was, wala kayong ikakahiya sa sarili niyo.”
“Technically, you’re the Number 2 team after the eliminations. This is already an achievement in itself,” Calanog added. “Maski sa akin, big achievement ito.”
Season 82: Pick up where they left off
Cabrera continued his postseason pep talk, “Be proud sa sarili niyo kasi umabot tayo hanggang dito. Yung iba nagbabakasyon na, tayo lumaban pa rin.”
“Everything today, tapos na ito. Ilabas niyo na ang sama ng loob niyo kung natalo tayo,” Calanog told the Lady Batters last Monday. He added, “Mindset for next season starts tomorrow. Whether physical or mental, preparations start tomorrow.”
They may currently be wrapping up their UAAP Season 81 episode, but it seems like the sequel is already underway for them. The Lady Batters, however, will be without veterans Mercy Arroyo and Badeth Benson anymore, who will be joining Arribas as they cap off their UAAP careers.
“Mawawalan kami ng tatlo, pero build up lang ng panibagong training. Kailangang makakuha din kami ng may ganung skills, parehas na level,” Cabrera shared on recruiting players who will fill in the shoes of Arribas, Arroyo, and Benson.
As they receive the bronze in the awarding program on Tuesday, April 2, the Lady Batters assure the Lasallian community that they will be picking up where they left off in Season 82. They have tasted the Final Four experience, and they will definitely come back be hungrier.