TEAM Manila-Philippines beat 2016 World Series Champion and 2017 runner-up Central Hemet Xplosion, 5-1, to win the 2018 Pony World Series 18-U Girls Softball Championship crown on Saturday at the Diamond Valley Park in the Valley-Wide Recreation District in Hemet, California.
It was the first-ever back-to-back title in the tournament by the Philippines and by an Asian country.
Ace pitcher Alma Tauli, a 17-year-old hurler from Norzagaray, Bulacan, pummeled the host city team and capped her dazzling performance with eight strikeouts.
The Big City Softbelles took control in the third inning in the finals when Gabriel and second baseman Mary Joy Maguad started the assault with a run each off base hits by first baseman Cleofe Magsayo and Romero-Salas.
Khisha Cantor, the 18-year-old Adamson University Lady Falcon and member of last year’s champion team in the Pony World Series, hit a double, stole third and made scored off an Aliza Pichon hit for a 3-1 score.
Tauli yielded a rare homerun to the Hemet Xplosion’s Hillary Smith at the bottom of the fourth inning, while the host city’s top pitcher Dianne Lopez came up with five strike outs.
“The girls deserve the win because we were able to keep our composure, execute our plan and limit our errors,” said head coach Ana Santiago.
Maguad, 18, from Candoni, Negros Occidental and veteran of the 2017 Junior World Championship and World Series, who sizzled with two stolen bases and a run off a catching error that silenced the host crowd at the top of the fifth.
Tauli kept calm when the Hemet Xplosion came back strong in the sixth and loaded the bases, the Filipina coming up with strikeouts to retire the home side.
In the semifinals, the team backed by Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, International Container Terminal Services Inc. and HMR Trading House were led by Manila pitcher Glory Alonzo with eleven strikeouts in five scoreless innings, with homeruns each from shortstop Angelu Gabriel and outfielder Alexandria Romero-Salas in a 11-0 rout of Riverside County Lady Laces.