Intercollegiate softball tilt underway

Defending champion Adamson University tries to draw first blood in its title-retention bid today as the Cebuana Lhuillier National Inter-collegiate Women’s Softball championships opens at the Rosario Sports Complex in Pasig City.

The Lady Falcons, who boast of with four Blu Girls and eight other players from Team Manila that won gold in World Series Big League, take on St. Louis University of Baguio City in the 8 a.m. first game of a heavy quadruple bill.

Fans will also have a rare chance to see members of the Southeast Asian Games champions Philippines Blu Girls and the reigning World Series Big League titleholder Team Manila in action in the weeklong tournament.

University of the East, the losing finalist last year when this tournament was still known as Ateneo Invitational Championship, faces arch-UAAP rival University of Santo Tomas at 10 a.m., while Bulacan State University, one of the three provincial teams entered in the 12-team, two-group, one-round eliminations, takes on University of the Philippines at 1 p.m.

Capping today’s explosive action pits State Colleges and Universities Athletic Association (SCUAA) titlist Rizal Technological University against La Salle at 3 p.m.

The Lady Falcons are actually seeking a sweep of all the tournaments they took part in the past two years after dominating the UAAP with back-to-back in 2010 and 2011, the 2010 and 2011 National Open and last year’s Ateneo Invitationals.

And they are heavily-favored to accomplish their mission what with the presence of the country’s ace hurler in Julie Marie Muyco and her Blu Girls teammates Quennie Sabobo, Annalie Benjamin and Luzviminda Embudo.

Reinforcing Santiago’s lineup are Manila Golden Girls Sabobo, World Series best pitcher and MVP Rizza Bernardino, batting champion Michelle Lentija, Glesyl Opjer, Krisna Paguican, Andrea Gonzales, Baby Jane Raro, Jane Fabellar.

Santiago, a former understudy of softball/baseball great Filomeno “Boy” Codinera, is herself eyeing for her 20th championship as head coach following her six UAAP title conquests, a pair of National Opens and National Intercollegiate cowns, SEA Games and ASEAN Championship plums.

A simple opening ceremonies to be presided over by Amateur Softball of the Philippines president Jean Henri Lhuillier precedes the hostilities. Also expected to attend today’s rites are ASA-Phil secretary general Danny Francisco and members of the ASA-Phil board.