Francesca Altomonte, will be seen in the Philippines softball scene wearing two caps and will be playing a key role both on and off the playing pitch.
The 30-year-old, secretary general of the Amateur Softball Association of the Philippines (ASAP) since 2020, a former national player from 2013 to the 2019 Manila Sea Games in Philippines gold medal winning effort, has come out of retirement.
In fact, Francesca, a catcher, came out of retirement last year to assist the national team for the Asian Games which was scheduled in September (but postponed to this year – September – because of the Covid-19 pandemic), had to delay her return, when in preparation for the Asian Games and competing in the Canada Cup, where she suffered a medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury in the first game of the tournament.
She was registered for Women World Cup qualifier in Incheon in April, but did not play, where Philippines qualified as the fourth team on a wild card ticket to compete in July for the next round of qualifiers in Italy.
However, Francesca is seeing action in the inaugural Co-Ed Slow Pitch Softball Asia Cup match at the Siam Polo Club ground in Pattaya, Thailand, which began yesterday (Wednesday).
“I am back from retirement because of national coach Ana Maria Santiago, who asked me to come out of retirement. I will do anything for coach Ana and I did not hesitate to make a return,” said Francessa who played in Philippines first two matches here defeating China 7-6 and Singapore 15-9.
Philippines, have become early favourites to reach the final after their two match unbeaten record play a tough match against Chinese Taipei this afternoon.
“I owe what I have achieved in softball to coach Ana. I used to play for a different team back home when I was young and lost each time to the team Ana coached. It was then that she saw some talent in me and invited me to play for her team. Rest was history, as I grew with her guidance.
“But when I suffered MCL injury last year on coming back from retirement, I thought it was a sign I should retire completely and my time was over. But I was told by Ana to work hard to recover and I did and here I am back playing again, although slow pitch softball,” said Francesca with her infectious laugh.
“I am glad that I am doing well here and pray that injury does not derail me again.
“I am looking forward to the World Cup second round qualifier in July in Italy (teams in this Group are Italy, Japan, Canada, Venezuela, New Zealand and Philippines) and the Asian Games in Hangzhou in September)
“But before that, I am excited with our performance here in Pattaya in slow pitch softball and hope to do well here too.”
On her dual role as secretary general of the ASAP and as a player, she sees no conflict and in fact, said she is enjoying it and feels she can do a better job with her involvement as an administrator and player.
“Even when I was a player before retirement, I was helping out in administration work. My experience as a player, helps me do my administrator job better, as I understand the needs of the players and coaches.
“Besides, we have a great president in Jean Henri Lhuillier, who supports us tremendously and is great leader and that makes my job easier and enjoyable.”
Lhuillier’s business, Cebuana Lhuillier, backs the national team financially too.
While Francesca is on a roll and enjoying her game here in Pattaya, it is double joy for her, as her younger brother Dino Emiglio Giuseppe Altomonte, the former 25-year-old baseball player, is playing a key role in the team, having hit home runs in both their matches so far.
In fact, it was Dino’s crucial home run in the opening match against China in the final inning, which helped Philippines win 7-6.
Indeed it is play ball time for the Altomontes.