Bago battery+1


What my Physical Education instructor at Central Philippine University said over five decades ago has remained vivid in my mind.

“A battery is important not only in our cars and transistor radios but also in batted games.”

And he went on to explain that ‘battery’ in softball or baseball refers to the pitcher and the catcher. “They are the sparkplug on top of the lineup,” he added.

Thus, when the Bago City team captured the title in the Junior League Softball World Series in Kirkland, Washington last month, attention was focused on the performance of pitcher Erica Arnaiz, who registered 85 strikeouts in their seven-game journey to the title, and limited opponents to only five runs against their total of 51. The pitching prowess of the native of Barangay Odiong in Moises Padilla resulted in victory via shutouts from the quarterfinals to the championship match.

The feat led to Erica’s installation in the League’s Hall of Fame with her jersey No. 24 retired to be displayed in the JLSWS headquarters in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

To be installed, a pitcher must have made at least 60 strikeouts, which Erica easily surpassed.

Erica was quick to share the credit with her teammates, especially her co-battery, Mary Antoinette Sicapore

“Without them, I couldn’t do it,” she said in a Philippine News Agency report. “My catcher, of course,” she said. “I appreciate being called the star player, but we are a team, all of us are superstars. I cannot play alone,” the PNA added.


I had the opportunity to interview the Bago battery and another sparkplug of the team, first base girl Ann Dyana Buenafe, Erica’s townmate.

The three girls, all aged 15, are Grade 10 students of Ramon Torres National High School.


Mary Antoinette, is the youngest of the four children of a carpenter, Rogelio Sicapore, and wife Mary Ann, who works overseas.

Her father introduced her to the sport, which is popular in sugar farms, like in Barangay Efigenio Lizares in Talisay City where her family lives.

Ann Dyana is the third of the four children of Daryl and Angela Buenafe of Barangay Crossing Magallon. She has been playing softball since she was in the fourth grade after she was encouraged by her teacher Edmund Palmamento at Macagahay Elementary School – Arom Extension and Principal Joseph Aurelio of Doña Mercedes Montilla ES, where she completed her elementary education.

Ann Dyana also plays badminton.

Erica is the eldest of four children of Eric Arnaiz and Maricel Sion. She was taught how to play softball by her father, also a slugger, when she was in the third grade. I like playing volleyball, too, she said.

Erica said she will always remember her Kirkland experience and looks forward to more sporting trips because “I love going places and gaining friends.”

I’m glad I made new friendships and made unforgettable memories with my team, added Mary Antoinette.

Ann Dyana also cherishes the U.S. trip as she was able to see places, too, and establish friendly ties abroad. “In fact, I’m chatting with them now,” she said during our online interview.

Beyond more softball victories, the three girls look forward to become successful professionals. “I dream of becoming an accountant,” said Ann Dyana, while Erica hopes to be a teacher. “I want to be a nurse,” replied Mary Antoinette.

Not far-fetched ideas for these young dreamers. Why? Because they are not only strong, they’re also smart. Intelligent.

All three of them have been honor students since grade school, confirmed Josie Sebunga, one of their coaches.

Obviously, their mental alertness was a significant factor in their journey to this year’s JLSWS glory.


Going back to softball at CPU… the university has remained a powerhouse in this batted game, which I presume was introduced by American missionaries and educators who founded it in 1905.

The Central softbelles – if I remember right, they were led by Cynthia Gencianeo, Loex Dela Rosa and Westphalia Andaya won – the National PRISAA title during my college days.

Since the mid-70s, the softball diamond had been dormant until about 10 years ago when the program was revived.

My fellow NW columnist Rev. Francis Neil Jalando-on, CPU Communications director, confirmed that the university just won its ninth consecutive National PRISAA title in Zamboanga City last month.

Congratulations to the players and the coaching staff under Pastor Kim Dela Cruz.

It’s not only the PRISAA domination that has made CPU distinct in the sport. It is the only University on this side of the country with a Softball Song – that tells of balls flying over palm trees and rice fields, a melody we, Centralians have taken by heart since we learned them in our P.E. classes, just like the ‘battery’.


“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:29-31) – NWI