Blu Girls step up Tokyo Olympics bid

The Philippine Blu Girls set out for the XVI WBSC Women’s Softball World Championship in Chiba, Japan in high spirits, upbeat of their chances against the best in the world in the elite event serving as a qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The World Baseball Softball Confederation-sanctioned competition is one of the four exclusive international tournaments staking a berth in the XXXII Olympiad Olympiad among its members and affiliated national teams.

If Japan, already seeded in the 2020 Games as host, wins, the second placer will gain the coveted Olympic spot.

“The Blu Girls are the strongest national team ever assembled and they have shown it last year by consistently beating the Top 10 teams in the world,” said Amateur Softball Association of the Philippines president Jean Henri Lhuillier.

The Blu Girls hope to start and finish strong in the World Championship slated Aug. 2-12 and carry the momentum to the 2018 Asian Games for a crack at a podium finish. The Asiad will be held Aug. 18-Sept. 2 in Indonesia.

Making up the Blu Girls squad are Lorna Adorable, Cheska Altomonte, Mary Ann Antolihao, Dianne Arago, Layca Basa, Arlyn Bautista, Garie Blando, Shaira Damasing, Sky Eleazar, Reese Guevarra, Ezra Jalandoni, Sierra Lange, Mia Macapagal, Nicole Padasas, Celestine Palma, Racel Palumbres, Janet Rusha, Cristy Joy Roa, Chelsea Suitos, Angelie Ursabia, and Arianne Vallestero with coach Randy Dizer.

The 16 participating teams from five Olympic continents have been divided into two groups with the Philippines (No. 15) joining the top seed US side, No. 5 Chinese Taipei, No. 6 Puerto Rico, No. 7 Mexico, No. 8 the Netherlands, No. 11 New Zealand and No. 35 South Africa in Group A.

Group B is composed of No. 2 Japan, No. 3 Canada, No. 4 Australia, No. 9 Italy, No. 12 China, No. 14 Great Britain, No. 17 Venezuela and No. 33 Botswana.

The top four teams from each group will advance to the double page playoff round with the rest tangling in the consolation round.

Meanwhile, the next Olympic elims, the Asia/Oceania Qualifying Event is set in 2019 where the top six teams from the Asian Softball Championship and the top two squads from the Oceania Softball Championship will vie for a seat in the Tokyo Games.