Get ready to board up your glass windows and watch out for stray balls because it’s that time of the year again when birds flying over the Rizal Memorial Stadium are at risk of being hit by balls traveling at over 90 miles per hour. With the opening of UAAP Season 77’s baseball and softball tournaments less than a month away, the DLSU Green Batters and Softbelles are busy making their final preparations towards a more fruitful season ahead.
Both teams are in search of redemption. The Green Batters are looking to redeem themselves from a heartbreaking loss in the finals at the hands of the ADMU Blue Batters, while the Softbelles are pushing to bounce back from their disappointing season last year.
After their loss in last year’s finals, the Green Batters immediately went back to the drawing board and began working on the different adjustments that they will need in order to finally grab the elusive title. Entering the tournament, the Green Batters are set on taking it one step at a time.
Team captain Carlos Laurel says that their main focus as a team is to position themselves where they can rightfully claim the crown, and to do this, they will need to take each game individually. “We want to win one game at a time and we want to focus on the end goal which is to win the championship,” says Laurel.
To help them this season, they recruited a good number of highly skilled players to add depth to their team. This time around, they will be relying on their rookies in order to attain success. According to Laurel, their recruits should not even be considered rookies given their skill and experience. “We got a lot of superstar recruits and we’re expecting a lot from them. We keep telling them that they’ve been playing for 15 plus years [of their life] so being a freshman doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a rookie for the sport,” says Laurel.
As of now, their main concern is working on the basic skills and conditioning in order to avoid reaching their peak too early in the season. According to Laurel, the team is taking things at a steady pace. He also expresses their concern of being in the right state when entering the season. “Basically, we want to divide what we need to work on into certain parts so that once we get to the season, we’re not peaking too early,” Laurel quips.
Along with this, he also expressed the importance of humility, especially while the season is ongoing. According to him, as much as possible, they would like to avoid letting the wins get into their heads, appreciate each one, and learning from any setback. He admits that competition will be tough this year since different teams will be playing hard for the title, especially senior players. As much as possible, they would want to keep their competitiveness high so that they may start and end the season on a positive note.
Looking at last year’s performance, some might say that the Softbelles lost their competitive spirit, but head coach Alex Estipular has provided them with a new sense of direction.
Throughout the off-season, the Softbelles began to turn a new leaf in their way of playing. According to Estipular, they have added more inclusions to their training program. Compared to last season, training has been made more intensive. One of their key reforms in their game play was the advanced batting technique employed to minimize errors on the field.
“I trained the team very hard and we concentrated more on their weakness last year. Now the team learned [from] their mistakes,” says Estipular. In addition to this, he exposed the team to a men’s softball team tournament outside of Metro Manila.”I [made them] play with the good team so that the team can gain team confidence, teamwork, batting, communication, good morals, and to level highly competitive teams,” explains the coach with regards to their off-season preparations.
With their line-up revamped, the Softbelles are confident that this year will be a breakthrough season for them. “We have recruited a good pitcher and infielder. [With the] rookies mixed with the veteran players, we are a well-balanced team,” says Estipular. Because of the different changes, along with the way they have been training, Estipular is firm that they will reach their goal, which is to finish at the top of the division. The Softbelles’ head coach believes that they are indeed ready to take on this season head on and bounce back.
“100 percent the team is ready to play this coming UAAP season and I give total credit to our Office of Sports Development’s program. The team will pray hard, play hard, play safe and most importantly, play fair for the pride of the school, DLSU,” concludes Estipular.