Blu Girls rebound, edge No. 8 Dutch rivals

The Philippine Blu Girls recovered from stinging shutout losses to fancied Mexico and Puerto Rico, rallying from behind to nip No. 8 the Netherlands and stayed in the hunt in the XVI WBSC Women’s Softball World Championship in Chiba, Japan Sunday.

The 15th-ranked Blu Girls’ scored twice on top of the sixth to complete their stirring fightback with Chelsea Suitos, who earlier hit a homer in the fourth, delivering the marginal run after an RBI single by Francesca Altomonte.

The victory evened the Blu Girls’ card at 2-2 in Group A, keeping their spot at No. 4 behind Puerto Rico (5-0), the US (4-0) and No. 7 Mexico (2-2) followed by Taiwan at No. 5, also with a 2-2 slate, the Netherlands (1-3), New Zealand (0-3) and South Africa (0-4).

The come-from-behind win likewise snapped the Philippines’ back-to-back losses to Mexico (0-2) and Puerto Rico (0-3) in the Blu Girls’ Saturday double-header after they crushed South Africa (10-0) in the opener of the event sanctioned by the World Baseball Softball Confederation and serving as the first of five qualifiers for the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo.

“Despite the twin setbacks, the Blu Girls didn’t give up and showed what they’ve got to go head-to-head with some of the world’s top teams,” said Jean Henri Lhuillier, president of the Amateur Softball Association of the Philippines (ASAPHIL).

The Filipina softbelles were facing the top seeded Americans at presstime and will slug it out with the No. 5 Taiwanese Tuesday.

Hailey Decker and Skylynne Ellazar’ pair of RBI singles gave the Blu Girls an early 2-0 lead but the Dutch tied the match in the bottom second on a Laura Wissink homer and a sacrifice fly by Chanter Versluis. The Netherlands surged ahead at 4-2 in the next frame as Van Dalen blasted a homer to center field with a runner on board.

But the Pinays fought back in the fourth with Suitos coming through with a homerun and completed their rally in the sixth that saw Cristy Roa single to center field to score pinch runner Riezel Calumbres for the tying run. Almonte then scored Suitos with a single to the middle for the victory.