NEVERMIND if the Philippines is playing in the Group of Death with World No. 1 New Zealand and World No. 3 Japan as former University of Mindanao (UM) baseball pitcher Earl Ryan del Socorro is upbeat to make his WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship debut when the Blu Boys clashes against Cuba Friday, June 14, at the Hippos Arena, Havlíckuv Brod, Czech Republic.
The 29-year-old father of two, who collected three most valuable player (MVP), three best pitcher, two best slugger and one stolen 3 awards and three championships for the Davao Region Prisaa in past stagings of the National Prisaa Games, said, “Syempre kabado din excited kay nag represent sa country tapos proud (I’m nervous but excited to represent the country and I am proud).”
Also playing for the country are his elder brother Edmer, the national men’s softball team captain and starting pitcher, and Saxon Omandac, who are also alumni of UM. Edmer is seeing action in his third World stint while Omandac is on his second appearance. The Del Socorro brothers and Omandac were under the tutelage of UM’s veteran baseball coach Joaquin “Boy” Sarabia.
Del Socorro said he only shifted to softball this year after focusing on baseball since 2013 when he went to Manila. He then joined the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and is an Airman Second Class since 2014.
"Sa Air Force kasi marami ang games and tournament na softball ang ginadula mao to nagpabalhin sa ko sa softball din ang baseball malimit lng ang liga (There are more games and tournaments in softball than baseball in PAF so I requested to be transferred)," he said via Facebook interview.
He claimed to be a utility player in the team, adding, "Kahit saan pero ang pinaka focus ko ang second base."
The Philippines, whose stint is supported by the Philippine Sports Commission and Cebuana Lhuillier, is World ranked 17th while Cuba is 24th. Also entered in Group A aside from New Zealand, Japan, Philippines and Cuba are No. 5 Argentina, No. 7 Czech Repoublic, No. 9 Mexico and No. 13 Botswana.
The Philippines first competed in the World Championship in 1968 and finished fourth. It won only one game in 2013 and 2015 combined but missed the 2017 World Championship.
Del Socorro, meanwhile, hopes to also play in his first SEA Games set in the Philippines, an opportunity he missed the past years when he was undergoing basic military training with PAF.