The Philippine women’s softball team, better 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 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 Italy.
“That’s why we need more foreign exposure. Alam naman ng coaches natin na ‘yun ang kulang,“ said team captain and starting pitcher Ann Antolihao in Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex
“We’re happy na nakabalik tayo sa World Cup,” added Antolihao during the forum presented by San Miguel Corporation, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, MILO, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.
Joining Antolihao were pitcher CJ Roa and catcher Celine Ojare, who reiterated the need for foreign exposure heading to the World Cup, where the top two teams will earn seedings to the 2024 edition.
The Blu Girls made it to the World Cup with an all-homegrown lineup, under the guidance of coaches Ray Pagkaliwagan, Randy Dizer and Anthony Santos, and the support of ASAPHIL president Jean Henri Lhuillier.
If given a choice, Roa said they would prefer a foreign training camp in Japan, where they can have a field day playing tune up matches with top teams.
“High-level training talaga sa Japan kahit sa tuneup games with university schools. Kaya kung bibigyan kami ng chance, sana sa Japan,” said the pitcher from University of Santo Tomas.
The Blu Girls also have players from, Bacolod, Bukidnon, Batanes, and Makati.
“Skills-wise mayroon naman po tayo dito. Pero kulang tayo sa exposure,“ added Roa.
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 bowing 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.