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Late homerun lifts China past Pinays

Royevel Palma struck out Xie Jia Xin twice but the Pinay ace hurler failed to tag the Chinese for the third time who struck back with a game-clinching over-the-fence home run in the bottom seventh as China beat host Philippines, 1-0, at the start of the seventh Asian Junior Women’s Softball Championship at the Clark diamond in Pampanga yesterday.

With two outs and two strikes, Xie, 18, from Sichuan, blasted Palma’s third pitch to deep center as the Chinese denied the Junior Blu Girls the victory to the disappointment of coach Isaac Bacarisas and their supporters who cheered for them throughout seven innings that lasted for two hours.

“I saw the ball coming and I hit it solidly,” said Xie, who played last year in Panzhihua where China placed second to Chinese Taipei.

Palma, from Iloilo, gave up two hits and fanned out 11 batters and outpitched Chinese counterpart Wang Yu Juan, who had three hits and struck out five Pinay batters in a duel of right-handed pitchers.

The hosts connected three hits – one in the fourth and two in the seventh frames – courtesy of Charlotte Sales and Erica Fernandez.

The three other matches ended in shutouts with defending champion Chinese Taipei blanking Korea, 7-0; Japan crushing Malaysia, 10-0; and Thailand demolishing India, 8-0.

The Phl-China faceoff was close throughout until Xie hammered out the homerun as the Chinese underscored their drive for a first-ever crack at the crown in six editions of the tournament dominated by Japan with three and Chinese Taipei two.

Meanwhile, AsaPhil president Jean Henri Lhuillier expressed his profound gratitude to the teams for taking time out to come to the Philippines for the competition.

“I warmly welcome you all in this tournament. I dare all the participants to showcase their innate skills and play under the spirit of sportsmanship. May the best team win,” said Lhuillier, who graced the opener by hurling the ceremonial throw with Softball Confederation Asia president Yi-Chuan Pan.

Eight teams are competing in the week-long competition organized by Softball Confederation Asia and hosted for the first time by the Philippines, sponsored by Cebuana Lhuillier and supported by the Philippine Sports Commission and Philippine Olympic Committee.