Blu Girls need foreign expo sure to sharpen for World Cup in Italy


THE Philippine women’s softball team—popularly known as the Blu Girls—will need all the exposure it could get as it prepares for the 2023 World Cup scheduled July 22 to 26 in Italy.

The Blu Girls advanced to the World Cup for the first time since 2018 following its fourth-place finish in the recent Women’s Softball Asia Cup in Incheon, South Korea, where they had a 5-3 win-loss record.

Somehow, it was mission accomplished for the Blu Girls, who are ranked No. 4 in Asia. But in Italy, they will be bracketed with tougher teams like Japan, Canada, Venezuela, New Zealand and the host country.

“That’s why we need more foreign exposure,” team captain and starting pitcher Ann Antolihao told Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.

“We’re happy we’re back in the World Cup,” added Antolihao in the forum presented by San Miguel Corp., Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, Milo and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

Pitcher CJ Roa and catcher Celine Ojare joined Antolihao in the forum and reiterated the need for foreign exposure heading to the World Cup, where the top two teams will be seeded to the 2024 edition.

The Blu Girls made it to the World Cup with an all-homegrown lineup and under coaches Ray Pagkaliwagan, Randy Dizer and Anthony Santos and the support of Amateur Softball Association of the Philippines president Jean Henri Lhuillier.

If given a choice, Roa said they would prefer a training camp in Japan, where they can have a field day playing tune-up matches with top teams.

“It’s high level training in Japan where tune-up games with university and school teams are already tough,” said Roa, a pitcher from University of Santo Tomas.

The Blu Girls also have players from Bacolod City, Bukidnon, Batanes and Makati City.

“In terms of skills, we have them, it’s the exposure that we need,” Roa said.

The Blu Girls played eight games in Incheon, beating Hong Kong (7-0), South Korea (2-0), Singapore (8-1), Thailand (10-0) and India (10-0) and losing to Japan (9-1) despite taking a 4-0 lead in the first inning, China (6-2) and Chinese-Taipei (5-0).

Antolihao said there’s no final lineup yet for the World Cup, adding that it will be up to the coaches. The decision may come when the team resumes training on April 24.

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