PH seeks Fil-Am UNLV softball standout to boost Asian Games bid

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Amateur Softball Association of the Philippines (ASA-Phil) executive director Jun Veloso is excited at the prospect in seeing Fil-Am Garie Blando suit up for the national women’s squad, popularly known as the Blu Girls, in the forthcoming Incheon Asian Games.

“She (Blando) is one player I want to get at all costs,” said Veloso, referring to the University of Las Vegas Nevada sophomore infielder, who was named Mountain West Conference Player of the Week in April and May, in a recent interview.

Born to Filipino parents and a native of Chino Hills, California, Blando is one of four Fil-Am players Veloso has been talking to for the Asian Games. The others are UNLV pitcher Francesca Toti and infielder Jexenne Balilea and infielder Leiah Ruiz of Mounwaint West Conference champion San Diego State.

“Blando was in the country last December during Christmas and was able to practice with us. She really can play,” Veloso noted.

The softball’s executive’s enthusiasm over the dynamic 5-foot-6 infielder was understandable, considering her superb track record.

As a mainstay of the Chino High School squad for three seasons, Blando led the Huskies to a 77-24 win-loss record, according to her brief bio posted on the UNLV Rebels website. She capped her stint in spearheading the team team to the California State Division 3 title in 2012.

Despite also doubling as a volleyball varsity player for the Huskies, the girl recorded impressive baseball stats in batting average (.369), on base percentage (.416), hits (88), runs batted in or RBI (54), and runs (59).

Blando earned her second MWC Player of the Week honors last May 13 in pacing the Scarlet and Gray to a three-game sweep of the Utah State Aggies last month, ending their season tied for second with Fresno State in the Conference with the same 15-9 marks. San Diego State (16-8) took the pennant.

In those three matches, she posted an outstanding .667 batting average and .667 on base percentage through six hits, two doubles, four runs, two steals and eight total bases.

Blando went 3-for-4 at bat with a pair of doubles in the UNLV’s abbreviated 8-0 rout of Utah State’s in their final and season-ending match.

Veloso disclosed the names of all four Fil-Ams were included in the list it submitted to the Philippine Olympic Committee-Philippine Sports Commission Asian Games Task Force to meet its May 30 deadline even though they were still without Philippine passports.

“Should they make the grade, we will appeal their case to the Asian Games organizers, similar to what basketball will do with naturalized player Andray Blatche, whose name was included in the line-up even though he also did not have a passport,” Veloso said.

He added that the inclusion of the Fil-Ams in the national squad for the Incheon Asiad will depend on how they perform when they join the Blu Girls in the US World Cup scheduled July 7 to 13 in Irvine, California.

The Filipina batters will be up against Canada, US, Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Japan and Chinese-Taipei in the event, Veloso said.

“Since it will be school break, all four have expressed interest in competing with us in the US World Cup,” Veloso pointed out. “Only after the tournament will be decide on their inclusion for the Asian Games.”

If all four, particularly Blando, are available to play in Incheon, the softball executive said the Blu Girls would be gunning for a medal in the Asian Games after finishing fourth in the previous edition of the meet held in Guangzhou, China four years ago.

By : Manolo Pedralvez, Rappler.com

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