The State of the Adamson Softball Dynasty
Anton Roxas on Feb 12, 2016 10:29 AM
SLOW START: The Adamson Lady Falcons didn't score until the fourth inning of their win over De La Salle University.
It was a strange Monday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium in Manila.
While most families were out enjoying the Chinese New Year holiday on February 8, 2016, the fourth game day UAAP Season 78 softball tournament was taking place. After National University defeated the University of the East, 6-0, to remain unbeaten in four games, it was the turn of De La Salle University and league powerhouse Adamson University to take the field.
Three innings of play passed and both teams remained scoreless.
The Lady Archers were in a celebratory mood as they prevented the five-time defending champions from getting on the board.
Ana Santiago, the head coach of the Lady Falcons was not happy at all.
Being unable to score early runs is highly unusual for Adamson Softball. Last season, the team won all 12 of their games in the elimination round via the mercy rule. The Lady Falcons have not lost a game in the UAAP in more than four years. So, suddenly losing their ability to hit the ball was a cause for concern.
Before the fourth inning began, Santiago summoned her players, who immediately gathered around her in a circle. The Adamson alumna grabbed hold of a bat and started demonstrating the proper way to swing.
It was like flipping a switch.
At the bottom of the fourth, the Lady Falcons came to life.
Rookie Clarisse Lozada converted on an RBI double to put Adamson on board. Two innings later, Riezel Calumbres was able to send another runner home. The Lady Falcons added two more runs at the bottom of the 6th via a two-run RBI single from Queeny Sabobo.
Adamson’s defense was solid too as they prevented La Salle from scoring to secure a 4-0 win.
“Sinabi ko sa mga players ko, ‘Tuloy-tuloy lang tayo. Yung concentration at focus niyo, huwag niyo iwawala sa game kasi hindi pa naman tapos ang seven innings. Lalabas ang palo niyo. Ang importante, hindi kayo nag gi give up hangga’t hindi natatapos ang game.’,” shared Santiago.
Although the Lady Falcons improved their record to 3-0 this season and pushed their UAAP winning-streak to 65 games, Santiago believes that defending their title will be a challenge because their hitting is not as strong is before.
“Hindi na ganun ka solid and hitting namin. Last year kasi, kahit sino doon eh. One to nine pati yung bench. Kahit sino hugutin mo, alam mong tatama eh.”
During the offseason, the injury bug struck the Adamson camp as first baseman Florabelle Pabiania suffered a torn ACL on her right knee.
Pabiania, who was awarded UAAP Season 77 Rookie of the Year now has her position filled by Calumbres. Angelie Ursabia was moved from third base to catcher after the graduation of Team Captain Clariz Palma.
Another adjustment is Krisna Paguican moving from the outfield to the infield to take Ursabia’s former spot at third base. The only two positions in the infield that remained unchanged for Adamson is the short stop and pitcher. Sabobo will continue to play short stop while the role of pitcher remains with two-time MVP, Annalie Benjamen.
Paguican, Sababo and Benjamen will all be graduating after UAAP Season 78. For Benjamen, who now holds the responsibility of Team Captain, the pressure to continue the school’s winning tradition has never been higher.
“Nung nawala si Palma, parang yung pressure na sa akin lahat. Kaya nagsasabi ako sa kanila (Her teammates) na tulungan ako dahil hindi naman mananalo yung team kung hindi ng dahil sa kanila,” said Benjamen.
The 23-year old Benjamen hails from Bacolod City, like majority of her teammates. She was introduced to the sport by her father, Carlos, who was a Softball coach. Eventually, she was discovered at the Palarong Pambansa by Santiago, who invited her to come to Manila. Together, they have won every single UAAP game they partook in for Adamson.
Despite all their success, Santiago continues to remind Benjamen and the rest of her teammates not to take anything for granted.
“Hindi namin iniisip yung winning streak o yung championship. Ang sinasabi ko lagi sa kanila, ‘one game at a time.’ Maglaro muna tayo. Wag niyong bilangin ang panalo at huwag isipin agad yung pinaka taas. Step by step muna tayo.”
Santiago began coaching the Lady Falcons in 2006. Since then, she has won eight championships. Getting a ninth title will require an increased level of focus from her players.
“Sinabi ko sa mga bata, ‘Naglalakasan ang mga kalaban natin. Nandun yung game plan kaya ilaro niyo lang yung laro niyo. Yun ang importante.’”