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UAAP: Lady Batters eager to build off impressive Season 81 in championship chase

The DLSU Lady Batters proved themselves as worthy contenders during the last UAAP softball tournament. Under the guidance of a new head coach last year, the Green-and-White sustained winning streaks and built momentum throughout the eliminations round. With a hard-earned twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four, the team from Taft placed third overall out of six teams, showcasing their elevated performance compared to past seasons.

Finally gaining playoff experience and intensively preparing during the off-season, it is no surprise that the Lasallians will be pushing for championship glory. With coach Jasper Cabrera still at the helm and the augmented by an influx of ambitious rookies, the Lady Batters are more determined than ever to attain greatness this Season 82.

Reading the same page

The importance of team chemistry is often recognized by onlookers, but without experiencing what it means to have synergy within the squad, it becomes difficult for the spectator to truly understand. The Lady Batters morphed into a completely different team last season, taking the league by storm, and entering the postseason with a twice-to-beat advantage for the first time in 14 years.

Team captain Chinny Ejar credits the bonds she and her teammates formed over the previous season as a key reason for the squad’s exponential growth. As she articulates, “‘Yung gumana last season is ‘yung communication namin sa isa’t isa‘yung bonding namin, hindi nawala.”

(What worked last season was communicating with each other and our bond, which didn’t fade.)

A UAAP season is long and grueling for every sport, and with every season normally comes turbulence. From internal disagreements to self-doubt, each squad encounters roadblocks they must navigate through in order to achieve success in the competition. The Lady Batters were no exception, according to Ejar, “Last year ‘yung team namin, madaming hindi pagkakaintindihan, pero nandoon pa rin ‘yung care namin sa isa’t isa para maging open at sabihin kung anuman ‘yung masasamang loob.”

(Last year, our team had a lot of misunderstandings, but we still cared for each other and remained open to discussing any problems or negative feelings we were dealing with.)

The honesty and sincerity of the players toward one another is what allowed them to function with cohesion last Season 81, and it is what the Lasallians hope to bring as a springboard to boost their upcoming UAAP campaign.

When players feel that they can trust their teammates and that their teammates have their backs, they are empowered to play with immense confidence. No longer second guessing themselves, athletes direct all focus toward the task at hand, and the winning plays come naturally—enabling teams to play at their highest level.


Building for the future

A different challenge faces the Green-and-White this season, in stark contrast to the previous year, the squad is now filled with fresh faces. With the inclusion of seven rookies, Ejar envisions that she and the other seniors will play a huge role in instilling the fighting spirit and guiding each recruit every step of the way. Once looking up to the seasoned players on the team, she now looks forward to being the “ate” to the next generation of Lady Batters.

Looking to make an instant impact, the debuting players are ready to contribute and continue off the momentum from last season. “The team worked harder this season. We have more rookies than seniors this season, but these rookies and sophomores are doing everything they can to catch up to the seniors,” shares Cabrera.

The refreshed dynamics of the squad would be something that Ejar knows she has to address as captain, as she reveals, “Mas iba talaga ‘yung team namin kaysa sa last [season]…Medyo naninibago kami kasi puro rookies ‘yung lineup namin, and ngayon lang kami nagsama-sama, pero nanininwala pa rin ako na kaya namin.”

(Our current team is different from that of last season. We are going through a transition phase because our lineup is full of rookies and we are only starting to play together now, but I have faith that we can build the same bond and perform well.)

The influx of young athletes has left DLSU in a promising position for the upcoming season. Although the main focus will be on immediate success, they also have the prospect of building a young core to compete for years to come, as they have the seasoned squad members to nurture the young talent. Not only is the team a threat this season, but the future looks bright for the Taft-based squad.


Taking the next step forward

Finishing with a twice-to-beat advantage was a huge success for the Green-and-White in their first year under Cabrera, who praises last year’s lineup for the “huge feat” of re-entering the Final Four picture after over a decade. He furthers, “They delivered really well. The momentum was there…The team achieved it because everyone in the squad worked really hard for it.”

Last year’s unprecedented performance has given the current squad the belief that they can compete with anyone this year. Discussing the matchup that they are most anticipating, Ejar conveys, “Sinasabi ng coach namin palagi, Adamson ang kailangan matalo namin, pero ‘yung gusto naming talunin Ateneo. ‘Yung schools kasi, Ateneo at La Salle, pinag-uusapan palagi.”

(Our coach always tells us that we must beat Adamson, but we personally are on the lookout for Ateneo because people always bring up the rivalry between the two schools, Ateneo and La Salle.)

Putting up the discipline during preparations is crucial to ensure that they can all perform well in the actual games. Ejar illustrates, saying, “Every training, nandoon ‘yung focus namin. Iniisip namin na UAAP [game] na ‘yun. Kahit training ‘yun, nandoon yung momentum namin.” The captain also adds that the team heavily practiced their batting and bunting, which will expectedly help them pile up runs and outscore their opponents.

(Every training session, we stay focused. We think of it already as a UAAP game. We make sure our momentum remains present, even though we are only practicing.)

The daunting task of knocking off the nine-peat champions, the AdU Lady Falcons, is a mammoth of an obstacle standing between the DLSU Lady Batters and their UAAP title dream, but it is clear that this is the closest they have come to becoming true contenders. With openness and chemistry, the team hopes to fire on all cylinders en route to what would be their first-ever championship.

Confident and raring for their season to commence, this season’s squad is the perfect mix of fresh and seasoned players—and now would be as good a time as any for the Green-and-White to beat the odds, shock the competition, and lift the trophy.

Disclaimer: February 26, 2020
The LaSallian published the above article for its February print issue, released February 11, under the impression that the UAAP Season 82 tournament would push through as scheduled. As of February 12, the UAAP’s Board of Trustees and Board of Managing Directors have postponed matches starting February 15 in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.

By Jeremiah Dizon

By Nico Meer

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