Chinese oust Blu Girls, seal title duel vs Japanese

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China reasserted its mastery over the Philippines, 4-2, while Japan ended Chinese-Taipei’s reign with a 10-3 rout as they set up a title clash for the Asian Junior 19-Under Women’s Softball Championship crown on Thursday at the Clark International Sports Complex in Pampanga.

Hurler Wang Xin Tu surrendered four hits but retired eight Filipina batters in a no-relief job and her teammates peppered Kaith Ezra Jalandoni and Royeve Palma with seven hits, three in the first inning, including two homeruns by Jiang Xin and Xi Jiaxin.

The Japanese, on the other hand, recorded two homers in the third and scored another in the fourth to dethrone the Taiwanese and forge a title showdown with the Chinese, who also edged the Junior Blu Girls, 1-0, in last Sunday’s opener of the event organized by the Softball Confederation Asia in partnership with AsaPhil and sponsored by Cebuana Lhuillier.

Japan trounced China the last time they disputed the Asian Junior crown in India in 1997.

“The Junior Blu Girls fought well and hard. Unfortunately, China prevailed. Our next step is to use what we have learned from this competition to further improve the skills of the Junior Blu Girls as they prepare for more tournaments,” said ASAPHIL president and Cebuana Lhuillier president & CEO Jean Henri Lhuillier.

After holding the Philippines scoreless in the first inning, China tagged southpaw Jalandoni with a solo homerun courtesy of Yang Tus Qi and Xi Jia Min followed up with a two-run homer after Ren Min singled in the bottom of the initial frame.

After Ren hit a single to center, Chinese coach He Guoping called Yang to pinch run for the former. Xi then broke a 2-2 score by blasting Jalandoni’s fifth pitch over the centerfield fence, boarding home Yang for a 3-0 lead.

Inspired by two round trippers, China kept the momentum and scored another run off reliever Palma in the fifth canto en route to victory in the week-long championship backed by the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee.

Erika Olfato and Erika Fernandez delivered the two Phl runs in the third and sixth innings, respectively.

“They got us early. The three runs in the first innings killed us,” rued coach Isaac Bacarisas.

Japan and China dispute the crown in a winner-take-all match at 1 p.m. today with both vowing to go all-out for the victory.

The Japanese, the only unbeaten in the eight-team series, dominated the Taiwanese and never allowed the reigning champions to rebound to the delight of coach Yosuke Sato.

Chinese Taipei beat Japan for the crown in 2000 in India but the latter prevailed against the former in 2009 in Malaysia and 2015 in Thailand. The Taiwanese then returned to the podium last year after beating the Chinese in the finals.

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