Co-Ed Slow Pitch Softball Asia Cup (DAY 1) – 24th May, 2023 – Wednesday
Pictures by Krittayad Janasawad
Team Philippines started off well, but saw China catch up, and in the end, had to clinch a come from behind narrow win in the final bottom seventh inning for a 7-6 victory, after trailing 4-6, in the opening inaugural Co-Ed Slow Pitch Softball Asia Cupmatch at the Siam Polo Club ground in Pattaya, Thailand this morning.
In the second match of the day Chinese Taipei defeated Singapore 12-5 to emerge as early favourites.
And it was Philippines’ former 25-year-old baseball player, Dino Emiglio Giuseppe Almonte, as the third batter who rose to occasion for home run hit for the equalising run (6-6), while Khrisha Genuary, the second batter who was on first base, brought home the fifth run for Philippines.
Then, Anthony Olaez’s hit, saw Michael Pangkaliwag from third base, run home for the narrow win and broke the hearts of the Chinese team.
Coach Ana Maria Santiago, was elated over the win and credited the team for keeping their composure and showed character for this narrow but crucial win.
“I am very happy also because it is the first time I am coaching a slow pitch team. All credit to the players who have worked very hard in our two months preparation and rising to the occasion against China whom we rated highly because of their dominance in fast pitch softball.
“I am glad that we managed to overcome them because this is a
crucial win for us to keep our hopes alive for a berth in the final and qualify for the World Cup.
“I just hope that the players keep their momentum in the coming games and don’t get carried away with this win. We must continue to work hard.”
Almonte, who is popularly known as Dino, said he was under tremendous pressure when he stepped out to bat, but was blessed that all worked out well and hit the home run.
“It is great day for me for helping my team beat China who were certainly favourites. And that we were trailing by two runs and had to make every shot count, certainly put tremendous pressure on me,” said Dino.
Dino is the younger brother of Francesca, the former national softball catcher who retired after the Sea Games in 2019 and became the secretary general of the Amatuer Softball Association of Philippines and now has come out of retirement and playing here in Pattaya.
“I just hope I will continue to make a difference to the team. We have a great team here and looking forward to qualify for the World Cup.
This win has certainly boosted our morale and confidence,” added Dino
Philippines play Singapore in their next game in the final of four game fixtures this afternoon.
China were naturally disappointed with the narrow loss, but consoled themselves that slow pitch softball is new to them and are here to learn.
But in the very next breath, team manager, Fong Siolong, said that despite the loss, they have not lost sight of a place in the final.
“Against Philippines it was a close match and both teams played well. Winning and losing is part and parcel of the game and although we are disappointed, we accept the defeat,” said Fong.
Fong also agreed that Philippines team were a more balanced team in the mixed team setup, as the Philippines have strong men and women’s teams in fast pitch softball, whereas, China’s forte is in their women’s team.
“But in our team we have men’s baseball players and that somewhat balances our team too.”
Fong said that although the road ahead with the remaining teams – Chinese Taipei, Singapore and Thailand – looks tough, they will be going for broke.
China next play host Thailand in the third fixture of the day this afternoon.
China 6 Philippines 7
Singapore 5 Chinese Taipei 12
Thailand China (1.30pm)
Philippines Singapore (3.30pm)
DAY 2 (Thursday) fixtures
Chinese Taipei v Thailand (9.00am)
China v Singapore11.00am)
Philippines v Chinese Taipei (1.30pm)
(All Thai time)