Panes: We have game

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By Joel Panes

Optic Yellow

Monday, January 20, 2014


THE 2nd phase of the Baguio Benguet Educational Athletic League opened Saturday where softball and lawn tennis was played at the Benguet State University athletic grounds.

For softball men, SLU Navigators kept the championship against the BSU Buffalos; while in softball women, the UC Jaguars, reigning national 2013 Prisaa champions spilled cold water over the title hopes of the resurging softbelles of the Benguet State University in an anti-climactic format which pitted strong teams in the first game of a single round robin tournament.

Hospitality Management senior Anna Leah Roberto of Batanes pitching for UC, baffled BSU batters with a surprising array of fast and off-speed pitches and lead the Jaguars to a clear 8-3 victory. Jaguars’ shortstop Lizel Tanding had a solo homer off pitcher Korina Liwan on the 3rd inning; while BSU’s Alnejie Fuchigami cashed on a fielding miscue by left fielder, Jade Fagyan to also score a solo homerun. The Bonifacio-based SLU Navigators salvaged 3rd place in a field of four teams by pouncing on the returning University of Baguio Cardinals.

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Watching from the sidelines of this year’s BBEAL ladies’ softball tournament, I noticed some interesting sights. Mankayan and Baguio secondary teams came to watch the hostilities unfold and learn from the skill sets of the teams. I may be terribly biased by praising the wards I had recruited as they were graduating from the secondary years but the mouth of secondary coaches do not betray their admiration for the team that had ascended to become Cordilleras first Prisaa national softball champions. “Watch how they throw the ball,” one respectable secondary coach would say to their younger wards. “Look at their follow through and do what they do.” Another coach would say, “Observe their batting stance and how they establish contact.”

Visiting Tuguegarao during their Christmas break to prepare for the BBEAL games, CAR’s national champions more than impressed their tune-up opponents. One of Cagayan Valley’s best coaches texted from the sports complex and the message was, “Coach, taas noo kami sa mga bata mo. Ang galing-galing nila.” There are fundamental expressions not accurately translated in the English language from the Filipino vernacular but the unsolicited commendation I did request the text sender to convey the same to ladies who impressed the watchers and players alike in a place far away from home. “What an honor to have played the national champions,” he later added. “Akyat kami diyan, coach,” he would finally message. “I-clinic mo ang bata ko.”

Meanwhile from Vigan, Karyll Galangco of the University of Northern Philippines, one young softbelle would message, “Sir, we have learned so much in two days of playing your team and being taught by you. Sana makadalaw kayo sa amin.” Though the Sharks had not overcome MMSU, their yearly nemesis in the regional SCUAA games, I promised I will find time to visit Vigan and help them improve their game.

Baguio softball in all modesty has become a showcase of how softball has risen from being an insignificant player in the national circuit. I am proud that the wards I have had the privilege of instructing trusted me with the development of their game. I hope they will not forget from where they came.

Since when had Baguio softball been admired? In decade of softball in these highlands, I have heard of personalities being praised for their officiating credentials but not for the improvement of the game. Someone once told me that if he knows enough of umpiring he will know how to play the game. I could not openly disagree but he is entitled to a mistake. Rules while they dictate the game do not teach skills. So far, one good step has been achieved. CAR Prisaa National Champions have become an inspiration to the aspiring young. May their tribe increase.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 21, 2014.

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