ROYEVEL Palma struck out Xie Jia Xin twice but the Pinay ace hurler failed to tag the Chinese for the third time as she hit a game-clinching 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 on Sunday in Pampanga.
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 struck out 11, while Chinese counterpart Wang Yu Juan allowed three hits and struck out five Pinay batters in a duel of right-handed pitchers.
The hosts connected three hits – one in the fourth frame and two in the seventh.
Defending champion Chinese Taipei blanked Korea, 7-0; Japan crushed Malaysia, 10-0; and Thailand ripped India, 8-0.
The Philippines-China match 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.
“The Chinese made a solid hit. I didn’t expect she could do it since she was tagged out twice by Palma,” said Bacarisas.
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.